U of T news
  • Follow U of T News

Fastest supercomputer in Canada

The supercomputer at U of T is approximately 30 per cent faster than Canada's previous top supercomputer

The IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer located at U of T’s high performance computing facilities has been named the fastest in Canada and 67th fastest on the TOP500 list of the world’s top supercomputers.

And researchers say they're going to put all that power to good use – using  new and previously unattainable big data to tackle scientific challenges such as disease modeling, disaster planning and mitigation, climate science and other computationally intensive modeling and simulation-based research.

“The muscle behind this system is the same architecture that drives many of the world’s enterprise computing systems. Here, it's being applied toward data-intensive, complex calculations to find solutions to issues affecting us all,” says John Lutz, president of IBM Canada. “The IBM BlueGene/Q can change the research climate in Canada and reveal insights that will deepen and strengthen our knowledge-based economy.”

The supercomputer plays a key role in the partnership known as SOSCIP, for Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Platform. Launched in April, this partnership brings together industry, government and university leaders to collaborate on research aimed solving critical challenges facing cities, health, water and energy systems, as well as research in agile computing.

“The Blue Gene/Q and, in fact, the SOSCIP consortium facilitate a university-industry partnership that will transform what we can do through research and innovation,” says Professor Paul Young, vice-president (research and innovation) at U of T and co-chair of the SOSCIP board. 

“SOSCIP and the Blue Gene/Q will help to lower the barriers to high performance computing, enabling researchers, students, and small to medium-sized business enterprises to collaboratively use this powerful new technology and create innovative solutions to challenging problems facing society.” 

With more than 40,000 water-cooled processors, the supercomputer has the equivalent processing power of three million smartphones, or 6,500 new, high-end laptops. Compared to Canada's previous top supercomputer, it's approximately 30 per cent faster, 10 times smaller and uses five times less electricity. 

The Blue Gene/Q system was installed in September 2012 with funding support from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. The SOSCIP partnership includes: U of T; Western University; IBM; the Government of Canada; the Province of Ontario and five academic partners (McMaster University, University of Ottawa, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Queens University and the University of Waterloo).

Read what Minister of State (Science and Techology) Gary Goodyear has to say about the supercomputer here.