White Papers

The Canadian ARC community submitted 17 white papers in early 2016. Representative bodies that submitted papers include: the Institute of Particle Physics plus Canadian Institute of Nuclear Physics, the Canadian Astronomical Society, the Canadian Association of Theoretical Chemists, and the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities. Several other multi-institutional groups of researchers submitted papers related to genomics (four largest Canadian centres), neuroinformatics (CBRAIN platform), ocean modelling (25 faculty from 14 institutions), materials research (28 faculty from 12 institutions) and light microscopy (three researchers from three institutions). In addition, several individual research institutions or research projects submitted papers.

Projected growth in compute over the next five years vary by discipline from 3x in subatomic physics to 12x in theoretical chemistry. Weighting by current usage in each discipline, this leads to an average expected increase of 7x over five years.

It should be noted that, in some cases, the range of responses within a discipline may include researchers who need 100x over the next five years. In these cases, the community is already providing an average which may not accommodate the peak need in their discipline. Further, the age and size of current Compute Canada systems has inhibited the growth of the high-end compute community in Canada and leads to a downward bias in the responses. The 7x projection could therefore be an underestimate of true demand.

White paper submissions also revealed a number of emerging trends that help to drive the technology roadmapping at Compute Canada. These include the need for:

  • Large data storage driven by improved instrumentation in genomics, neuroimaging, astronomy, light microscopy and subatomic physics
  • Large memory nodes (at least 512GB) from astronomy, theoretical subatomic physics, quantum chemistry, some use-cases in bioinformatics, humanities, some use-cases in AMO physics, and institutional responses
  • Expanded accelerator capacity (primarily GPUs) from subatomic physics, chemistry, artificial intelligence
  • Robust, secure storage options from the digital humanities
  • Expanded cloud services from digital humanities and astronomy
  • Expanded capacity for tightly coupled processing, including jobs that exceed 1,024 cores