University of Waterloo launches supercomputer for big data and machine learning research

University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo, Compute Canada, and Compute Ontario, announced the launch of a new data centre that will house the Graham system, a powerful new supercomputer.

The supercomputer can handle more simultaneous computational jobs than any other academic supercomputer in Canada, and has a storage system of more than 50 petabytes, or 50 million gigabytes.

Waterloo’s data centre is one of four new supercomputing and data systems launching at four sites across Canada this year. The other data systems include University of Victoria’s ARBUTUS system, an OpenStack cloud that hosts virtual machines and other cloud works; Simon Fraser University’s CEDAR system, a heterogeneous cluster suitable for a variety of workloads; and the University of Toronto’s NIAGARA system, which will be a high performing computing resource designed for large parallel workloads. The systems are designed to provide researchers access to the latest advanced research computing (ARC) and expertise.

“Research and innovation have helped define the University of Waterloo, and will remain important priorities for our future,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. ”Graham allows us to increase our capacity to be a global leader in advanced computing. Thanks to the support of both the federal and provincial governments, CFI, Compute Canada and Compute Ontario we will be even closer to realizing this vision.”

“With such a strong reputation for innovation, the University of Waterloo makes an excellent host site.”

Waterloo’s Graham system, worth $17 million, and the other three data centres are the result of the Ontario government’s Advanced Research Computing and Big Data Strategy, which is made up of an investment of $75 million over five years, as well as an investment of $30 million made through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI’s) Cyberinfrastructure Initiative in July 2015.

“We are excited to announce the launch of Graham for the benefit of the research community,” said Nizar Ladak, president and CEO of Compute Ontario. “With such a strong reputation for innovation, the University of Waterloo makes an excellent host site. Compute Ontario proudly supports this system, which will ensure Ontario is well positioned as a global leader in advanced computing and a global focal point for highly qualified personnel.”

Non-profit Compute Ontario is coordinating the Ontario government’s big data strategy, which has the goal of upgrading infrastructure at Ontario’s advanced research computing sites; developing new talent in advanced research computing and big data; building on Ontario’s work to investigate causes and treatments for medical conditions; and sparking new business growth.

More details on the new data centres can be found here.

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer at BetaKit. As a fourth-year journalism student who has written primarily about entrepreneurship, Amira has developed a growing interest in Canadian startup, business, and tech news. In her free time, Amira enjoys reading, baking and watching legal shows.