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$88 million boosts high performance computing

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Contact: Jana Makar, Netera Alliance (on behalf of WesGrid), 403.210.5489
              Don MacLachlan, PAMR, 604.291.3929

December 21, 2006

An $88-million federal investment in national high performance computing (HPC) resources will improve Simon Fraser University researchers’ ability to address some of today’s most complex and socially relevant research problems.

SFU is a partner in WestGrid, one of Canada’s seven major HPC consortia that together are creating a pan-Canadian network of HPC facilities.

The National Platforms Fund (NPF) is built on $78 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and $10 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). Matching funds from provincial and industry sources will bring total NPF funding to nearly $180 million.

“This represents a major leap forward for Canada’s HPC community,” said Dr. Eliot Phillipson, President and CEO of CFI. “This investment will provide researchers with the tools to solve large-scale computational problems that we could not even have imagined tackling 10 years ago.”

The process leading up to the NPF announcement mobilized Canada’s entire HPC community — previously operating as separate regional consortia competing for resources — to work together on the development of a unified HPC strategy for Canada. The investment will ultimately benefit more than 6,000 investigators performing intensive computationally based research across the country.

“This investment opens the door for SFU researchers to have better access to powerful computing resources, allowing them to compete on a level playing field with the rest of the world,” says SFU physicist Dugan O’Neil.

The investment marks the first time CFI has identified a specific research infrastructure of strategic priority for the country and brought together all stakeholders — universities, provincial and federal funding agencies — to collaborate on the development of a purposefully shared pan-Canadian resource. SFU is one of more than 60 partners across Canada.

WestGrid (Western Canada Research Grid) is Canada’s largest HPC consortium with 14 partner institutions across four provinces.