Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

September 29, 2006

Supercomputer Network Gets Nearly $11 Million, U of G to Benefit

One of the most powerful supercomputing installations in the world, which the University of Guelph is part of along with 15 other Ontario research institutions, has received an additional $10.9 million in support from the provincial government.

The Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network (SHARCNET) supports some of Canada’s pre-eminent academics in a variety of fields, from strategies to combat mad cow disease to new models to manage financial risk.

It consists of clusters of computers linked by a dedicated fibre-optic connection. The facilities are hundreds or thousands of times faster than a regular desktop computer. Calculations that would take months to run on a single personal computer can be completed in a few hours.

“This network has given us a capacity for computing that we haven’t had before in the history of U of G,” said Prof. Deborah Stacey, chair of the Department of Computing and Information Science (CIS) and a representative on the SHARCNET board.

The latest grant comes from the Ontario Research Fund and brings the total amount of money the province has contributed to about $45 million. “SHARCNET is an important and innovative technology that will enhance Ontario’s future productivity,” said Liz Sandals, MPP for Guelph-Wellington. She added the government recognizes the importance of investing in research and development and providing opportunities for post-secondary students to gain experience with latest technology.

Stacey said it’s “an amazing contribution to the high-performance computing community on this campus and for all the SHARCNET institutions.” Guelph’s high-performance computing community is constantly growing in numbers and research areas, she said.

“The province has wisely realized that infrastructure can be wasted if the ‘people’ resources are not funded. This funding will allow SHARCNET to effectively and efficiently maintain and expand its personnel and its outreach to the researcher community. It will also enable research in many disciplines and will support faculty, staff and students,” she said.

Guelph is unique among the other SHARCNET institutions because it uses the high-performance computing system for research with a primarily biological focus, led by faculty in CIS, the Department of Physics, the Department of Chemistry and the School of Engineering.

The other research institutions that make up the high-performance computer network are McMaster University, Wilfrid Laurier, Windsor, Waterloo, Brock, York, Laurentian, Trent, Lakehead, the Ontario Institute of Technology, Fanshawe College, Sheridan College, and most recently, the Perimeter Institute and the Ontario College of Art and Design.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.

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