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HPC overview

UVic researchers have access to high performance computing (HPC) clusters and cloud computing resources. This type of infrastructure is also called advanced research computing or ARC. HPC and cloud computing help researchers solve complex problems quicker and more efficiently than using standard desktop or laptop computers.

Does your research involve big data sets? Modelling and visualizations? Complex calculations and simulations? You should consider our advanced research computing resources.

What is HPC cluster computing?

A high performance computing (HPC) cluster is specialized computer hardware configured to handle high volumes of data calculations at high speeds. These resources are designed so many users can take advantage of them at the same time, performing better than any single desktop or laptop computer. 


HPC clusters can be used in a wide variety of ways. Many researchers use HPC clusters for batch processing and running computational workloads, like:

  • Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning.
  • Bigdata and data mining.
  • Natural language processing and text mining.
  • Fluid dynamics simulations.
  • Computational chemistry, particle physics, and astrophysics simulations.
  • Weather, land, and ocean simulations.
  • Bioinformatics jobs.

Some researchers use HPC clusters to host their data for sharing with others. Data storage and archiving are also available. The clusters are running Jupyterhub environments to support interactive and collaborative uses as well.

Other examples of how UVic researchers use cluster computing are:

  • The Owens lab, which is storing genomic data of plants and animals. They're running software to identify genomic differences between samples and using alliance resources for assembling genomes for new species.
  • The XCITE lab, which is running large parallel Monte Carlo simulations of medical imaging systems.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing resources are a flexible solution for more customized project needs. You can create virtual machines (VMs) to:

  • Run custom applications or websites.
  • Configure special software and computing environments.
  • Design data portals and monitoring tools.


Cloud resources can be utilized in multiple ways. Many researchers are using our clouds to host:

  • Django and Flask websites
  • Virtuoso servers
  • Topic modeling and text mining explorers
  • Custom configured Jupyterhub environments

Other researchers are using cloud resources to run browser-based research tools like:

  • Data portals
  • Monitoring platforms (like health applications)
  • Custom platforms for organizing their HPC cluster batch jobs and post-processed data

Some examples of how UVic researchers use cloud computing are:

Get started with HPC

We partner with the Digital Research Alliance of Canada (the Alliance) to support research computing. Many services we offer are through the Alliance. You need to apply for an Alliance account to access them.

Plan a consultation to help you choose advanced research computing solutions best suited for your research project, including deciding between cluster and cloud computing.