Canadian Consulting Engineer

Supermonster computer started up at University of Toronto

A memory stick and a laptop might answer most people's computing needs, but the new supercomputer at the University...

June 20, 2009  Canadian Consulting Engineer

A memory stick and a laptop might answer most people’s computing needs, but the new supercomputer at the University of Toronto fills a space the size of a warehouse.

The computer can do more than 300 trillion calculations a second, meaning that over four days it is capable of simulating the Earth’s climate 100 years into the future. By September it will also be helping to process the data from the Large Hadron Collider project in Geneva, a particle accelerator that has been built by scientists who want to uncover the origins of the universe.

The IBM System x iDataPlex system at U of T uses 30,240 Intel processor 5500 series 2.53 GHz processor cores. It is entirely cooled by water to save energy, but even then, according to the Globe and Mail, it uses $1 million worth of energy a year!

The supercomputer is run by Toronto’s SciNet Consortium, Compute Canada, and IBM. It is one of currently one of the 15 most powerful computers in the world. SciNet is currently funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario government and the University of Toronto.


The $50-million piece of hardware was started up on June 18. It will be used for research in aerospace, astrophysics, bioinformatics, chemical physics, climate change prediction, medical imaging and the global ATLAS project.





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