Compute Canada to Renew Cyber-Infrastructure

July 30, 2015

Waterloo, Ontario - Compute Canada and its regional partners ACENET, Calcul Quebec, Compute Ontario and WestGrid will receive close to $75 million to renew and consolidate the national platform for advanced research computing. Funds will be received through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Cyberinfrastructure Initiative competition launched in 2014. The federal investment of $30 million leverages an additional $45 million in provincial and institutional support.

Today’s announcement by Peter Braid, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo at an event at the University of Waterloo is a major step forward for Canada’s advanced research computing infrastructure – an important component of Canada’s digital research ecosystem. This essential infrastructure and expert support directly supports the Canadian economy and science excellence.

“We applaud the Government of Canada’s commitment to investing in digital research infrastructure that fuels a competitive and innovative economy. This capacity will give our research community the tools they need to achieve greater impact more quickly, translating into new discoveries, economic return on investment, as well as increased skills and expertise in our workforce, regardless of industrial sector or scientific discipline. This is a win for Canada and a win for research and innovation,” says Mark Dietrich, President and Chief Executive Officer at Compute Canada.

“We fund a variety of different projects and increasingly these are collaborative projects where engineers in our companies and engineers in universities will have to work together. That requires many projects to use the same computing architecture, if not the same computing platform and for the work we support, that will be Compute Canada. It’s in our interest to see that platform optimized,” says Fassi Kafyeke, Senior Director Strategic Technology and Advanced Product Development, Bombardier Aerospace, Montreal.

Compute Canada will retain focus on on-campus support, with approximately 200 personnel at 34 member institutions who are available to assist students, faculty, and staff. Support includes all aspects of the modern tools of computation-based science, including simulation, data analytics, computer programming and model development, analysis of results, visualization, and training.

“The strength and experience from all four sites and teams will benefit researchers and their international and industrial partners across Canada,” says Dr. Greg Newby, Compute Canada’s Chief Technology Officer. “This concentration of investment will position Canada to competitively meet the growing needs of data and computationally intensive research and ensure we continue to support science excellence and innovation.”

All research disciplines have identified an increasing demand for infrastructure over the next five years. In some cases, this is due to a constant progression of the field towards more complex models and more compute-intensive approaches as they model the world around us and develop new innovative products. As part of its technology refresh program, Compute Canada will also design and deploy a new national storage cloud. This will be a significant investment to modernize the mechanisms by which users access and retain files and datasets. Approximately 25% of the total capital investment will go to storage resources.

“Common to all areas is the need for expert personnel to enable efficient use of resources in cutting-edge research,” says Dr. Dugan O’Neil, Compute Canada’s Chief Science Officer. “Compute Canada’s expert personnel will have world-class infrastructure with which to serve Canada’s world-class researchers in areas such as genomics, advanced manufacturing, and exploring complex systems such the universe.”

With this investment Compute Canada will replace 24 ageing systems with four new systems offering improved services and capacity to accelerate research results. New national systems will be hosted at the University of Waterloo, the University of Toronto, Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria. Compute Canada’s plan includes early procurement of a national storage infrastructure, followed by a staged deployment of four large computer systems by the end of 2017.

The four new systems will serve the diversity of needs within Canada’s community of advanced research computing users. Compute Canada would like to recognize the support from the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia.