IBM, University of Toronto To Build Canada's Most Powerful Supercomputer

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The supercomputer is expected to be among the top 20 fastest supercomputers in the world, 30 times faster than the peak performance of Canada's current largest research system, and the second largest system ever built on a university campus, according to IBM. The project will be started immediately, and is slated to be fully operational by summer 2009.

Big Blue said that the supercomputer will pioneer a hybrid design containing two systems that can work together or independently, connected to a massive five petabyte storage complex.

The machine is extremely flexible and capable of running a wide range of software at a high level of performance since it uses IBM's iDataPlex system and IBM's POWER6 architecture, according to the company.

As the largest implementation of IBM's iDataPlex system, the supercomputer will hold twice as many processors per unit as standard systems and is entirely water cooled. More than 4,000 servers will be linked together in the multi-platform solution, including one of the world's largest POWER6 clusters and Intel x86-based clusters. The supercomputer will also be one of the first systems to use future Intel Nehalem processor families, slated for release early next year.

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The supercomputer will be used for research in aerospace, astrophysics, bioinformatics, chemical physics, climate change prediction, medical imaging and the global ATLAS project, which is investigating the forces that govern the universe. The supercomputer will also be used to explore why matter has mass and what constitutes the mass of the universe.

An immediate project will be the construction of regional climate change predictions for the province of Ontario and Great Lakes watershed region.

The five-year project is estimated to cost $47 million, including construction and operating costs, Reuters reported. Funding has been provided by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation's National Platforms Fund, in partnership with the Province of Ontario and the University of Toronto.