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REF NO.: 14

SUBJECT: ACEnet Atlantic Canada plays a key role in completing 20 years of computation in 48 hours
DATE: Sept. 17, 2004

Note to editors: The following news release is being issued on behalf of the Atlantic Computational Excellence Network (ACEnet). MemorialUniversity is the lead Institution.

The Atlantic Computational Excellence Network (ACEnet), the NRC’s Canadian Bioinformatics Resource, the University of Alberta, C3.ca, and partners have performed the Third Canadian Internetworked Scientific Supercomputer (CISS-3) experiment. The experiment completed 20 years of computation in 48 hours.

Modern science and engineering rely on computers as fundamental tools. Computers are able to simulate problems that span the scale from galaxies to the molecules in our bodies. For example, atoms and the interactions of proteins are mathematically modeled to understand their fundamental properties. Computers can also help answer “what if” questions that would be difficult or impossible to control in a physical experiment. However, these simulations require tens of thousands of hours of computation to complete.

The Atlantic Computational Excellence Network (ACEnet), one of six High Performance Computing Consortia in Canada, is putting Atlantic Canada on the map in terms of computing power. The current members of ACEnet (Memorial University of Newfoundland- lead institution, Saint Mary’s University, St. Francis Xavier University, the Universityof New Brunswick, Dalhousie University, Mount Allison University, and the University of Prince Edward Island) have been working hard to support the CISS-3 experiment and the Trellis Project in a national computer initiative.

The Trellis Project, a team led by Dr. Paul Lu (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Computing Science, University of Alberta) has developed the technical infrastructure to create virtual supercomputers that span many different universities. The aggregated power of the virtual supercomputer can tackle problems that would otherwise be too large for one research group or one institution. In November 2002, the Trellis Project set a Canadian milestone when it completed 3.5 years worth of computation in a single day, studying the fundamental properties of chiral molecules, using the first Canadian Internetworked Scientific Supercomputer (CISS-1) with 1,376 computers at 16 different partner universities.

Today, with the help of the Atlantic Computational Excellence Network (ACEnet) and the Canadian Bioinformatics Resource (CBR/NRC) the CISS-3 experiment is being completed. This experiment is setting a new Canadian milestone through the partnership of the University of Alberta, C3.ca, 19 different universities, 6 high-performance computing (HPC) consortia (including Atlantic Canada’s ACEnet), 3 research institutions, and several networking partners across Canada. Using newer techniques and more sophisticated software than in 2002, CISS-3 is combining the computational power of approximately 4,000 computers across Canada, from Victoria to St. John's, to solve two different computational chemistry problems (in protein folding and biological membranes) led by researchers at the Universities of Calgary and Toronto, and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

In a 48 hour period, between September 15 to September 17, approximately 20 years worth of computation will be completed. The technical infrastructure provided by Trellis, and the social infrastructure built by the generous cooperation of the many CISS-3 partners, will help provide Canadian computational scientists with the raw computing power to tackle the most difficult problems in science and engineering.

Researchers in Atlantic Canada are thrilled by the regional show of support toward this initiative. From 8 different sites throughout Atlantic Canada, ACEnet has been able to contribute in excess of 750 computer processors towards the CISS-3 and Trellis initiative.

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