International HPC Summer School in Toronto

June 29, 2015 in blog, blog-general, for_educators, for_researchers, for_users, in_the_news, news, success_story


Eighty students from the US, Canada, Europe and Japan, plus about twenty speakers and over thirty mentors gathered at the University of Toronto from June 21 to June 26, 2015, to learn about High Performance Computing, and share experiences in this multi-disciplinary field (see Sponsored by PRACE, XSEDE, Riken, and Compute Canada , this was the sixth such advanced international summer school on High Performance Computing, which targets graduate students and postdocs who already have some experience in HPC parallel programming (for instance, MPI, OpenMP, or CUDA/OpenCL), preferably on software used in successful research projects.

Leading American, Canadian, European and Japanese computational scientists and HPC technologists offered instruction on a variety of topics, including HPC programming proficiencies, performance analysis, and visualization, as well as presentations of how HPC gets applied in fields such as geophysics, climate science, material science, cosmology, plasma phyiscs, and life sciences.

SciNet, a partner in the Compute Canada endeavour, was encited to be the local organization of this large international event.
It was an engaging week of instruction and networking that we hope has given the participants the skills and inspiration to use HPC resources to explore scientific projects at new and unprecedented scales.


Science Rendezvous 2015

May 18, 2015 in blog, blog-general, for_press, for_users, news, Uncategorized


We had a great time at Science Rendezvous on May 9th, 2015!

Science Rendezvous is an annual festival in Canada that takes science out of the lab and onto the street. The University of Toronto is one of the event sites, and SciNet has been part of this event for many years.

At the SciNet booth, explorers of all ages found out how researchers use computers for discovery. They saw how even simple computer simulations that you can run in your web browser or laptop can teach them important facts about how complex systems behave.

The most popular demonstration seemed to be slingshot, a game where the aim is to fire a laser beam towards a target (spaceship) through a set of black holes that change the beam’s trajectory. Other interactive simulations were a bouncing ball on a vibrating plate, a forest fire web application, and an ecological simulation of rabbits and wolves (the latter two are available at

Many thanks to the organizers who made this possible, and to everyone who turned out on a Saturday to discover science!



Compute Ontario Research Day 2015

April 21, 2015 in blog-general, for_researchers, for_users, frontpage, news, Uncategorized


The Compute Ontario Research Day 2015 will be held on Thursday, May 21 at the Cambridge campus of Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.

This will be a day filled with high performance computing related research done in Ontario. Have an interesting research story for which you used high performance computing (such as the facilities at SharcNet, SciNet, and HPCVL)? Want to share you experience with other Ontario HPC users? Consider giving a talk at the meeting.
This is the preeminent provincial high performance computing event at which professors, postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate students gather to learn about each other’s high performance computing related work.

The program will consist contributed and poster presentations and four invited speakers:

  • Prof. James Demmel
    Department of Mathematics, Computer Science Division, University of California, Berkeley
  • Anil K. Goel
    Vice President and Chief Architect, HANA, SAP
  • Prof. Harald Pfeiffer
    Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Toronto
  • Prof. Aristotelis Tsirigos
    Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, New York University

This conference is sponsored by Compute Canada and Compute Ontario, and is a collaborative event between SHARCNET, SciNet, HPCVL, and Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.

For more information and registration, see


2015 Call for Compute Canada Resource Allocation Proposals

September 17, 2014 in blog, blog-general, for_educators, for_researchers, for_users

Compute Canada is announcing the launch of the 2015 Resource Competitions.  In addition to the familiar Resource Allocation Competition (RAC), there are two other opportunities to access Compute Canada resources including the Fast Track and the NEW Research Platforms and Portals (RPP) Competition.

I invite you to consult the Compute Canada website for additional details on these three opportunities and to be mindful of the deadlines below.  If you have any questions please contact

Resource Allocation Application Deadlines

Resource Opportunity Deadline
Fast Track October 2nd, 2014
Resource Allocation Competition October 20th, 2014
Research Platform and Portal Competition (Letter of Intent) September 25th, 2014

Background:  Compute Canada is leading the creation of a powerful national Advanced Research Computing (ARC) platform for research. This national platform integrates ARC resources at six partner consortia across the country to create a dynamic computational resource. Compute Canada integrates high-performance computers, data resources and tools, and academic research facilities around the country. These integrated resources represent a substantial computing capability and online and long term storage with rapid access and retrieval over Canada’s national, provincial and territorial high-performance networks.


Calcul Canada annonce le lancement de son concours d’allocation des ressources pour l’année 2015. En plus du Concours d’allocation des ressources (CAR) régulier, il existe désormais deux autres moyens d’obtenir des ressources, à savoir la procédure de demande accélérée et le NOUVEAU Concours plateformes et portails de recherche (PPR).

Je vous convie à visiter le site Web de Calcul Canada pour obtenir plus de précisions sur chacun de ces trois opportunités, en gardant à l’esprit les échéances indiquées ci-dessous. Pour toute question, écrivez à

Échéances pour l’affectation des ressources

Possibilité Échéance
Demande accélérée 2 octobre 2014
Concours d’allocationdes ressources 20 octobre 2014
Concours plateformes et portails de recherche (lettre d’intention) 25 septembre 2014

Contexte:  Calcul Canada orchestre la création d’une puissante plateforme de CIP nationale pour la recherche. Cette plateforme rassemble les ressources de CIP de six consortiums partenaires situés  un peu partout au pays de manière à en créer une seule, dynamique, intégrant des ordinateurs de haute performance, des banques de données et leurs outils ainsi que des installations de recherche universitaires réparties aux quatre coins du Canada. Combinées, ces ressources représentent une capacité de calcul appréciable à laquelle s’ajoutent des capacités de stockage en ligne et de longue durée. Il est possible d’y accéder et de les utiliser rapidement grâce aux réseaux de pointe national, provinciaux et territoriaux.

McMaster Students Create Fractal Movies Using BlueGene/Q Supercomputer

May 30, 2014 in blog, blog-general, for_educators, for_press, frontpage, in_the_news, news, Uncategorized


Computing and software students at McMaster University created some stunning videos of fractals using the BlueGene/Q, one of the most powerful computers in the world, administered by SOSCIP and hosted by SciNet.

Read the full articles on McMaster University’s Daily News’ or on HPC wire.

The videos can be seen on YouTube.

Details on the SCOSCIP BlueGene/Q at SciNet can be found on our wiki.

International Summer School 2014 on HPC Challenges

February 13, 2014 in blog, blog-general, for_educators, for_researchers, for_users, news

Apply by 9 March, decisions in early April
Expenses paid by program
Sponsored by PRACE, XSEDE, Riken, and Compute Canada

Compute Canada/Calcul Canada invites students and researchers at Canadian post-secondary institutions to apply for one of 10 spots allocated to Canada for the fifth International Summer School on HPC Challenges in Computational Sciences. This is a great opportunity for Canadian students and postdocs to attend an Advanced Summer School on High Performance Computing Challenges, all expenses paid.

The workshop is aimed primarily at graduate students or postdocs; however, junior faculty or advanced undergraduates are also welcome to apply. Attendees will be expected to have some experience in HPC parallel programming (for instance, MPI, OpenMP, or CUDA/OpenCL), preferably on software used in successful research projects, and must be at least 18 years of age at time of application. Attendees from all disciplines are invited to participate.

The summer school is sponsored by the European Union Seventh Framework Program’s Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe Implementation Phase project (PRACE-3IP), U.S. National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) project, RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (RIKEN AICS), and Compute Canada / Calcul Canada.

Leading American, Canadian, European and Japanese computational scientists and HPC technologists will offer instruction on a variety of topics, including:

  • Access to EU, Canadian, Japanese and U.S. HPC-infrastructures
  • HPC challenges by discipline (e.g., bioinformatics, computer science, chemistry, and physics)
  • HPC Programming Proficiencies
  • Performance analysis & profiling
  • Algorithmic approaches & numerical libraries
  • Data-intensive computing
  • Scientific visualization

The expense-paid program will benefit advanced scholars from European, Canadian, Japanese and U.S. institutions who use HPC to conduct research. Interested students should apply by March 9, 2014.

Meals, housing, and travel from Canada, Japan and the U.S. will be covered for the selected participants. Applications from students in all science and engineering fields are welcome. Preference will be given to applicants with parallel programming experience, and a research plan that will benefit from the utilization of high performance computing systems.

For further information and to apply online, please click here.

Why Data Centre Providers Love the Greater Toronto Burbs

February 5, 2014 in blog, blog-general, in_the_news, news

The recent announcements of continued IT infrastructure building in Markham (and across the other southern York Region municipalities of Richmond Hill and Vaughan) reflect an established data centre cluster in the area, including recognizable names such as IBM, Rogers, Compugen, OnX, and HP. Of particular noteworthiness is Vaughn-based SCINET—Canada’s largest supercomputer data centre—a High Performance Computing consortium of the University of Toronto and affiliated Ontario hospitals.

Read the full article on TechVibes.

2014 Call for Compute Canada Resource Allocation Proposals

September 24, 2013 in blog, blog-general, for_educators, for_researchers, for_users, news

Any Canadian academic researcher may obtain a default allocation on any Compute Canada system, including those at SciNet, at any time by registering with the Compute Canada DataBase (CCDB) and requesting accounts at one or more consortia. The size of default allocations vary by system.

A Principal Investigator who requires more than the default allocation (be it computing time or storage space), and who is eligible to apply to national granting councils for funding, must submit a proposal to Compute Canada’s Resource Allocation Committee (RAC). The Call for Proposals is posted on the Compute Canada site each fall, with awarded allocations running 1 Jan to 31 Dec of every year.

The 2014 call for resource proposals is now open. Proposals with details about the scientific and technical aspects, are to be submitted via the Compute Canada website CCDB site.

More details can be found in Compute Canada’s Call for Proposal Announcement.

Note: The Resource Allocation deadline has been extended. Proposals must be submitted electronically to Compute Canada on or before October 21, 2013 at 3pm (Eastern). It is however necessary to have started the application process by October 16.

SciNet’s Top 5 of 2012

December 17, 2012 in blog, blog-general



It’s been a great, busy, year here at SciNet in 2012;  here’s our take on a SciNet Year in Review as a countdown to what’s already shaping up to be an exciting 2013…

5!  SciNet Training

Training and education have always been important to SciNet; it’s one thing to provide computer resources, but we enable research at scale by teaching researchers how to make use of the computers for their work.   In 2012:

  • We held 100 hours of courses, seminars, and Tech Talks,
  • Representing 1,138 student hours of teaching; and
  • Started a new SciNet Certificate program so that attendees could get recognition for all the effort they were putting in.

..4! SciNet Websites

We launched our new and clearer website this year, which will be the one-stop-shop for news, events and features about the science being enabled here at SciNet; but don’t worry, our technical wiki,, will still be there for all your documentation and training material needs.  Some website highlights:

  • Our new Careers page keeps track of Ontario jobs for researchers with HPC experience;
  • Our technical wiki served it’s 750,000th page view this year, and that doesn’t even count the downloads of PDFs of training materials or views of video-recorded educational sessions.

…3! Big Storage for SciNet Users

This was the year we made available our large HPSS system for long-term storage available to our users.  This sophisticated large-scale storage system allows our users reliable near-line storage for very-large data sets.  On tape we already have

  • Over 63 million files, and
  • Over 1.4 petabytes of usage

….2! SOSCIP and the Blue Gene/Q

As part of the SOSCIP project for accelerating research and innovation across Southern Ontario, SciNet took delivery of and is running and supporting the SOSCIP Blue Gene/Q systems.   These new systems are:

…..1! Future SciNet-ers; Outreach to High Schools

And the top highlight of the year has to go to working with the great high school students at SATEC in Toronto, who built a supercomputer of their own, learned to program it with MPI and OpenMP, and demo’ed it to their local MPP.    These students will be the supercomputing experts and data scientists of the future, and it was a pleasure to work with them.

So thanks for all your emails, tweets, and support through the year, have a wonderful holiday, and…

Happy New Year!

SciNet Runs Canada’s Fastest, Greenest Computers

November 19, 2012 in blog, blog-general, frontpage

SciNet-run computers tops in Canada on Green500, Graph500, and Top500.

The two new Blue Gene/Q systems that are part of the Southern Ontario Smarter Computing and Innovation Platform (SOSCIP) for joint commercial/academic applications are Canada’s biggest, fastest, and greenest big compute platforms – indeed, among the greenest and fastest in the world.  And they’re in just the right place.

“SciNet was the natural choice to host, run, and support these supercomputers,” said Dr. Chris Loken, CTO of SciNet.  “We’ve built a centre that has the concentration of expertise to support users looking to make use of this system for research and development; and we have one of the largest, most energy-efficient, research computing datacentres in Canada, and still have lots of room to grow.”

SciNet’s green datacentre, which makes use of Canada’s cold winters to help reduce the costs and energy needed to cool these behemoth computers, means that the computer’s rankings on the twice-annual Green 500 list, where the machines are tied for 6th and 24th in the world for energy efficiency,  actually understates the case for how energy efficiently they actually run.  Because of judicious use of “free cooling” provided by Ontario’s mild climate whenever possible, almost all the energy used by SciNet’s datacentre goes into compute equipment, not air conditioning infrastructure.  Partly as a result, SciNet uses less than one half of the possible four megawatts of power to which the facility has access.

But although the systems only sip energy compared to similarly large-scale systems, they can tear through “big data” or raw number-crunching computational problems with ease.   On the Graph 500 ranking of supercomputers, which ranks the worlds largest computing resources by how well they can handle the sort of big-data problems that business analytics or digital humanities problems need, the new systems rank the 13th and 35th fastest in the world.  And for raw, brute-force number crunching capability, the larger of the two systems ranks 68th.

While researchers look eagerly forward to use such computational engines for discovery and innovation, some need some help in scaling their research software up to effectively utilize such powerful computers. “And that’s where SciNet really shines,” says Dr. Daniel Gruner, CTO-Software of SciNet. “We’ve got an amazing team of expert analysts – second to none – who can help researchers and innovative companies retool in order to take advantage of the largest machines in the world, and realize their full potential.”

More information about the computers, SOSCIP, and SciNet’s role can be found at

SciNet is Canada’s largest supercomputer centre, providing Canadian researchers with computational resources and expertise necessary to perform their research on scales not previously possible in Canada. SciNet powers work from the biomedical sciences and aerospace engineering to astrophysics and climate science, and is funded by CFI, NSERC, the Ontario Government, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, and the University of Toronto.  SciNet runs computers for, and provides computational expertise to users of, Compute Canada’s National Platform, the Southern Ontario Water Consortium, and the Southern Ontario Smarter Computing and Innovation Platform.