ACEnet, Atlantic Canada’s Computational Excellence Network, received an investment of half-a-million dollars from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) for the creation of the first ever pan-Canadian network of high performance computing (HPC) facilities, a national resource that will benefit the entire spectrum of research in Canada. ACEnet, made up of Memorial University of Newfoundland, Saint Mary’s University, University of New Brunswick, St. Francis Xavier University, Dalhousie University, Mount Allison University, Cape Breton University, Acadia University and the University of Prince Edward Island, will join a consortium of high performance computing networks from across the country, which received a groundbreaking total investment of $78 million. The funding marked the first time that the CFI has identified a research area of strategic priority for the country and brought together all stakeholders — universities, provincial and federal funding agencies, and private sector partners — to collaborate on the development of a purposefully shared pan-Canadian resource.
The process leading up to this announcement mobilized Canada’s entire HPC community — previously operating as separate regional consortia competing for resources — to work together on the development of a unified HPC strategy for Canada. This major investment will ultimately benefit more than 6,000 investigators doing intensive computationally-based research at over 60 institutions across the country.
“This funding will extend ACEnet’s capabilities, enable sharing of facilities on a national level in support of ‘big science,’ and highlight the capabilities of researchers and research infrastructure in Atlantic Canada,” said Dr. Christopher Loomis, chair of the ACEnet board of directors.
ACEnet will use the investment to build on initiatives such as the very successful Coast to Coast Mathematics Seminar in which mathematics researchers from Atlantic Canada and the western provinces video conference to collaborate on research on a bi-weekly basis. This will be aided by the addition of five new inSORS (video conferencing) sites to the Atlantic Canada Access Grid Network which will promote further inter-university collaboration.
“This represents a major leap forward for Canada’s HPC community,” said Dr. Eliot Phillipson, president and CEO of CFI. “This is a truly national effort, with all seven HPC consortia across the country collaborating as full partners in this project. This investment will provide researchers with the tools to solve large-scale computational problems that we could not even have imagined tackling 10 years ago.”
“High performance computing is a critical tool in many areas of research that NSERC funds, including astronomy, chemistry and mathematics,” said Dr. Suzanne Fortier, president of NSERC. “We are extremely pleased to collaborate with CFI in funding this project, which is critical for the maintenance of a research environment that fosters discovery and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians.”
Over the past several years, rapid developments in HPC technology have revolutionized the way research is done. Capable of performing calculations thousands of times faster than a regular desktop computer, HPC technology can produce results in a single day that would normally take a year or more.
These computing resources have now become essential to advancing research frontiers in all areas, from health sciences to engineering to natural, social and human sciences.
For more information on ACEnet, visit www.ace-net.ca/.