The University of Toronto’s SciNet Consortium, Compute Canada, and IBM 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.
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 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.
Dr. Richard Peltier is Scientific Director of SciNet and Director of the Centre for Global Change Science, and a physicist whose interests are focused on planetary physics and climate change prediction. His 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 provides up to five times the compute density versus competitive offerings and a 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 data center design at the University of Toronto saves enough energy to power more than 700 homes yearly.
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.