Compute Canada announces results of its 2016 resource allocation competitions
Results show demand for resources and expertise is growing year upon year, making Compute Canada’s national platform consolidation and renewal critical to supporting Canadian research, discovery and innovation.
Toronto, ON (January 21, 2016) – Compute Canada, Canada’s advanced research computing platform, today announced the 343 recipients of its 2016 computing and storage allocation competitions, known as the Resource Allocation Competition (RAC) and the Research Platforms and Programs (RPP) competition. The projects represent a diverse range of science areas and benefits to Canadians, from research in text analytics to brain imaging simulations to developments in green energy production to spacecraft design.
Advanced research computing (ARC) and research data management tools are essential components for today’s modern research requirements. Access to these resources and expert support are key to producing world-class results.
“Each year the allocation process has become more competitive as demand for our resources continues to grow beyond existing capacity, and this year was no different,” said Dugan O’Neil, Compute Canada Chief Science Officer.
Compute Canada received a total of 366 applications from research projects across the country. Compared to 2015, this year’s applications on average requested 16% more computing resources, 34% more storage, and 123% more GPU computing resources (which use graphics processing units (GPUs) for much faster processing times than conventional computing resources).
“The ARC needs of the Canadian research community continue to grow as the next generation of scientific instruments are deployed and as new datasets are gathered and mined in innovative ways,” says Mark Dietrich, Compute Canada President and CEO. “As ARC becomes relevant to answering key questions in an even broader list of disciplines, these technological advances are allowing researchers to construct ever more precise models of the world around us.”
At the University of Saskatchewan, Professor John Tse, a 2016 RAC recipient and a Canada Research Chair in Materials Science, relies on Compute Canada resources to uncover new insights into the physical and chemical processes of materials under extreme conditions. Tse uses quantum mechanical methods and data-intensive computer simulations to study the electronic structures and transport properties of minerals deep within the Earth’s interior.
“Earth is a dynamic planet. The computing facilities of Compute Canada enable the realistic simulation of complex systems under extreme conditions, leading to new understandings of the novel phenomena in atomic details,” says Tse. “This world-class infrastructure makes our research internationally competitive.”
At the University of Waterloo, Assistant Professor Ian Milligan is leading a team that will provide access to currently under-used and unknown web archives. Web Archives for Longitudinal Knowledge, or WALK, will be among the first attempts to harness data in ways that will enable present and future humanities and social science scholars to usefully access, interpret, and curate the masses of born-digital primary sources that document our recent past.
“Right now, there are incredible Canadian web archives which would be of invaluable use to researchers – containing over a decade of political, cultural, social, and economic information – but they’re held in silos,” says Milligan. “The large-scale storage and computing resources made available to WALK through Compute Canada’s RPP allocation will let us bring it together into one computational environment, allowing us to provide meaningful access to users.”
For 2016, the RAC and RPP competitions allocated 127,000 core-years of computation power and 15.5 petabytes of disk storage to the 345 recipient projects. The storage capacity alone represents the equivalent to more than 300 million four-drawer filing cabinets filled with text. The RAC and RPP allocations, combined with other day-to-day usage by thousands of other users across the country, have all systems in Compute Canada’s national platform running at maximum capacity.
“More researchers, across all disciplines, are depending on access to large-scale computational power and storage resources to achieve results, make breakthroughs, and remain competitive with their international colleagues,” says O’Neil. “Compute Canada is actively working to improve researchers’ access to the ARC resources they need. Until we can get systems online that increase our capacity, we are doing everything we can with the resources we have to try and meet the existing demand.”
Between 2016 and 2018, as part of an initial technology refresh program, four national datacentres will replace more than 20 legacy systems which are being decommissioned. Also, Compute Canada will be submitting proposals to the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for operating funding through to 2022 and additional capital investments to its ARC platform. A national consultation process, Sustainable Planning for Advanced Research Computing Phase 2 (SPARC2), has been launched to gather feedback from users and researchers on Compute Canada’s CFI submissions and technology deployment plan.
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About the RAC and RPP Competitions
The Resource Allocation Competition (RAC) and Research Platforms and Portals (RPP) competition are annual, peer-reviewed processes used to allocate high-performance computing and long-term storage capacity each year to research projects from all areas of science. A Call for Proposals is issued during the fall. Submissions are evaluated for both technical feasibility and scientific excellence. Recipients are given priority access on Compute Canada systems for the allocation amount awarded by the competition.
About Compute Canada
Compute Canada, in partnership with regional organizations ACENET, Calcul Québec, Compute Ontario and WestGrid, leads the acceleration of research and innovation by deploying state-of-the-art advanced research computing (ARC) systems, storage and software solutions. Together we provide essential ARC services and infrastructure for Canadian researchers and their collaborators in all academic and industrial sectors. Our world-class team of more than 200 experts employed by 35 partner universities and research institutions across the country provide direct support to research teams. Compute Canada is a proud ambassador for Canadian excellence in advanced research computing nationally and internationally.