The most recent user needs survey was distributed to the Compute Canada user community early in 2016. The 189 submissions included responses from 109 faculty members from a wide variety of disciplines. Natural Sciences and Engineering dominated the responses, with 76% of respondents identifying NSERC as a source of funding, 19% identifying CIHR (health research) and 7% identifying SSHRC (social sciences and humanities). Each respondent was asked to identify their current usage of both compute and storage and to project the relative increase in that number over the coming five years.

The user survey responses revealed specific requests for additional features, new architectures, and special node types. They include requests for:

  • Overall increased compute capacity
  • Better support for Big Data use-cases
  • Encrypted cloud storage and other steps to enable research on sensitive datasets
  • Increased access to large memory nodes
  • Specialized resources to support bioinformatics
  • Greater accelerator (e.g., GPU) capacity
  • Better support for interactive and visualization-focused use cases
  • Better support for long-term data storage and enterprise-class data backup
  • Platforms to support new hardware development (IT and computer engineering-related research)
  • Increased training and improved documentation