Quebec Unites its Strengths in Scientific Computing

Montreal, November 8, 2012 – In the last decade, numerical computation has become an important part of a majority of research areas. Long associated with disciplines such as chemistry, engineering, materials science, telecommunications, aerodynamics, combustion, environmental and atmospheric sciences and astrophysics, the use of supercomputers has now expanded beyond these traditional domains into new fields. High-performance computing (HPC) now plays an increasing role in industry, pharmaceuticals, medicine, finance, transportation, entertainment and high technology.

During the last ten years, the size of supercomputers has increased from a few hundreds of cores to tens of thousands! This multicore development naturally leads to computers being gathered together in clusters to enhance their capabilities. These clusters are pooled for logistical, technical and economic reasons. “The Quebec computing platform is ranked among the best academic infrastructure in the world. Calcul Québec possesses servers with a variety of architectures equipped with almost 80,000 cores and has a highly qualified technical team to meet the needs of users”, says Normand Mousseau, Chief Scientist at Calcul Québec.

Calcul Québec represents the fusion of the Réseau québécois de calcul de haute performance (RQCHP) and the Consortium Laval McGill and UQÀM Est-du-Québec (CLUMEQ) into a single structure whose mission is to provide computing resources to all researchers in Quebec. Founded in 1999, the RQCHP brought together researchers from École Polytechnique, Bishop’s and Concordia Universities and the Universities of Montreal and Sherbrooke, while CLUMEQ, founded in 2000, brought together researchers from Laval and McGill Universities as well as from the network of the Université du Québec. The new agreement will ensure optimal use of resources, facilitate access to infrastructure and provide support for all users using the strengths of our teams. Calcul Québec also serves as a regional division of Compute Canada, which oversees HPC at a national level.

Calcul Québec’s mission is to make its supercomputers available to all researchers in Quebec and Canada, regardless of where they are or where the resources are located. “Quality HPC infrastructure is a key element in maintaining and developing the competitiveness of Quebec researchers in the global economy”, assures Suzanne Talon, the coordinator of Calcul Québec. The number of research groups using shared resources for HPC in Quebec has increased tenfold over the past decade, from 25 to 240 and continues to grow. Calcul Québec also has a mandate to promote the use and development of HPC in emerging sectors and is open to collaboration with Quebec and Canadian companies.

New users, from academia or industry, need considerable support because supercomputers involve sophisticated programming techniques that require training. This is why the highly qualified personnel at Calcul Québec offer users support, analysis and training in HPC. Academic researchers or companies can benefit from the expertise of technical teams to help them in their projects and get the best out of the equipment.