IBM Supercomputer at University of Toronto is Canada's Most Powerful

IBM iDataPlex System to predict future risks such as accelerating decrease in Arctic sea ice; regional climate change for Province of Ontario and Great Lakes watershed region

The University of Toronto's SciNet Consortium, Compute Canada, and IBM today announced the completion of a new supercomputer facility at SciNet that has a peak processing power of more than 300 trillion calculations per second, making it Canada's most powerful supercomputer and one of the most powerful and energy-efficient supercomputers in the world.

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The consortium, which includes the University of Toronto and associated research hospitals, will enhance SciNet's competitive position in globally important research projects. The IBM Supercomputer will be used for ground-breaking research in aerospace, astrophysics, bioinformatics, chemical physics, climate change prediction, medical imaging and the global ATLAS project, which is investigating the forces that govern the universe. SciNet is one of seven consortia that comprise Compute/Calcul Canada, a national high performance computing resource for academic institutions. SciNet is currently funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario government and the University of Toronto.

"With the IBM iDataPlex cluster now operational, the SciNet facility will begin delivering high performance computing services to the Canadian research community that are fully competitive with those available internationally," said Dr. Richard Peltier, Scientific Director of SciNet and Director of the Centre for Global Change Science. "This unique facility, both in terms of its compute power and its energy efficiency, represents a major success for Compute Canada, Canada's national HPC Platform and for the University of Toronto Community as a whole."

As a physicist whose interests are focused on planetary physics and climate change prediction, Dr. Peltier's work includes research on the impact of greenhouse gas-induced global warming, which will be greatly enhanced by this system.

Another area of research for this system will be to explore the modern scientific mystery of why matter has mass and what constitutes the mass of the universe. Beginning in September, the Large Hadron Collider project based in Geneva, the most powerful particle accelerator ever built, will produce vast quantities of data, which scientists hope will be begin to unlock these mysteries. SciNet's computing power and storage capacity will be a significant contributor to the data analysis.

Additional areas of research include analyzing high-resolution global models to predict future risks, such as the accelerating decrease in Arctic sea ice. An immediate project will be the construction of regional climate change predictions for the Province of Ontario and Great Lakes watershed region.

With peak performance of more than 300 trillion calculations per second, this IBM System x iDataPlex system would currently place in the top 15 of the world's most powerful supercomputers, according to the latest TOP500 List. It uses a total of 30,240 Intel processor 5500 series 2.53 GHz processor cores and it is entirely water cooled.

The IBM System x iDataPlex server is specifically designed for data centers that require high performance, yet are constrained by floor space, power and cooling infrastructure. This system provides up to five times the compute density versus competitive offerings and a unique water cooled technology -- IBM's Rear Door Heat Exchanger -- extracts more heat than the systems actually generate. This, combined with additional energy efficiency technologies, including dynamic provisioning software that automatically turns off processors not currently in use, and the state-of-the-art data center design at the University of Toronto saves enough energy to power more than 700 homes yearly.

"From the outset the IBM and SciNet team knew we had to break new ground to achieve success, said Chris Pratt, Strategic Initiatives Executive, IBM Canada. "Not only was this system the first of a kind worldwide, but we were very focused on the overall efficiency and ability to deliver meaningful research capabilities across a wide range of disciplines. This Canadian success story is attracting worldwide interest in how the team has created such an integrated, efficient and powerful system and this is a true a testament to the collaboration and team work of all those involved."

"The University of Toronto's SciNet installation is the largest Intel processor-based IBM deployment in the world," said Richard Dracott, Intel's General Manager of High Performance Computing. "We are honored to have platforms based on the Intel(R) Xeon(R) processor 5500 series driving the largest supercomputer in Canada tasked with solving some of the most complex challenges facing our planet."

This new iDataPlex system adds to SciNet's existing supercomputing capability, which includes an IBM water cooled Power 575 supercomputer with 3,328 POWER6 cores with peak performance of more than 60 trillion calculations per second. This system is currently the 53rd most powerful supercomputer in the world according to the latest TOP500 list and will help with research in a variety of areas including aerospace.

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