10,000,000 Computations Served… and counting!

February 8, 2012 in blog-general, in_the_news


In the early hours of Sunday, Feb 5th, SciNet’s GPC supercomputer quietly performed its ten-millionth set of calculations for Canadian researchers, crossing the milestone by performing a simulation for an international particle physics experiment.

Like a virtual factory, the SciNet computing  systems run twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; each second it is running, it completes up to 300,000,000,000,000 mathematical operations. Researchers across the country use the internet to construct their simulation or data analysis task remotely; then the supercomputer assigns it to a collection of its 40,000 processors when they become available. The systems tackle such tasks as biomedical research including studying Alzheimer’s and brain function; aerospace research such as finding cleaner-burning mixes of biofuels; and in astronomy for finding signals in the very first light to travel through the Universe.

“We’re enormously pleased that our centre, its people, and its facilities have been in such high demand from researchers across Ontario and all of Canada”, said Dr. Chris Loken, Chief Technical Officer of SciNet. “To have built something that has proven so essential for so many scientists, engineers, and others that it’s been asked to provide ten million compute `jobs’ in just two and a half years is remarkable.”

The science behind the ten-millionth job involves some of the most fundamental physics possible, the search to understand the basic properties of matter and the forces that govern the universe. ATLAS, an international experiment based at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland is one of SciNet’s biggest users. “The SciNet facility provides the largest ATLAS Tier-2 Analysis Facility in Canada and we now run about 8,000 jobs a day for ATLAS, about 2.2 million in the last 12 months”, said Dr. Leslie Groer, in charge of the ATLAS project at SciNet. “Simulation calculations like this one are vital to understand the ATLAS detector and to analyze the physics coming from the largest experiment in the world.”

This article was featured on InsideHPC.

About SciNet:

SciNet is Canada’s largest supercomputer centre, providing Canadian researchers with the computational resources and expertise necessary to perform their research on scales not previously possible in Canada, from the biomedical sciences and aerospace engineering to astrophysics and climate science. More information is available at http://www.scinet.utoronto.ca.

About Compute Canada

Compute Canada is a national platform of advanced computing resources across the country, bringing together computer and data resources, academic researchers, and computational expertise to tackle some of the Canada’s biggest research questions. Compute Canada has built a user community across Canada in disciplines ranging from the sciences and engineering to arts and humanities. The Compute Canada Resource Allocation Committee annually awards supercomputing time to projects on the basis of scientific merit. For more information about Compute Canada or this year’s allocations, see https://computecanada.org.