UVic to host powerful research computing facility


Most of us have wrestled with computer capacity at home—How big a hard drive do I need? How much RAM? Where do I store information I want to keep? What do I do when my hard drive is full?

Now try to imagine you’re a researcher tackling big data-rich questions like the origins of the universe, trends in climate change, or the development of new cancer drugs. Your computing needs would go far, far beyond any desktop computer. You would need access to a high-performance computing network.

Thanks to new funding announced today by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the University of Victoria has been chosen as one of four hubs across Canada for what is known as advanced research computing—the hardware and software systems that enable researchers to store, analyze and mine massive pools of big data.

“Research computing helps us transform discoveries into products, services and processes that improve our lives and help us understand the world around us,” says Dr. Michael Miller, a computer scientist and UVic’s associate vice-president research.

“We’re thrilled to be hosting one of these sites. It will allow us to play a national and international role supporting research in areas such as science, engineering, health and digital humanities. We have the infrastructure, capacity and highly skilled technical support required to take this on.”

The funding—totalling $30 million for the four sites across the country—comes from CFI’s Cyberinfrastructure Initiative and is managed by Compute Canada, the national organization responsible for the systems, storage and software solutions of advanced research computing.

The new system will increase UVic’s current cloud computing capacity for supporting research by up to 13 times. The initial allocation of 5.5 petabytes of storage is 5,500 times that of a typical home or office computer. It will be installed in the university’s existing data centre, built in 2008 to support its research, teaching and administrative computing needs.

UVic’s computing hub will be available for use by any university researcher across Canada, regardless of location or discipline. But there is a distinct advantage to researchers at the host institution, says Miller.

“There are some types of research where it’s better to be close by so you’re not transferring data over long distances,” he explains. “Plus we’ll have the expertise right here.”

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Media contacts

>Dr. Michael Miller (Associate VP Research) at 250-886-5931 or avpr@uvic.ca

Valerie Shore (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-721-7641 or vshore@uvic.ca

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Keywords: CFI, funding, technology, research, computer science

People: Michael Miller

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