Press Releases

Press Releases from WestGrid

Astronomical amount of data travels across Western Canada to support space research

For Immediate Release

December 13, 2011


Nearly 300 terabytes – the equivalent of about 25 million large phonebooks – of astronomical research data has been copied from the National Research Council’s Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics’ (NRC-HIA) Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC) in Victoria, BC and transferred to Compute Canada/WestGrid storage facilities at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK as part of the Canadian Advanced Network for Astronomical Research (CANFAR) project.


Data stored at the CADC is continually collected by major astronomical facilities, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Canada-France--Hawaii Telescope, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, and the twin 8-m telescopes of the Gemini Observatory.


Click here to read the full media release.

Fast, Powerful Computing Resources Open Research Doors

For Immediate Release 
June 30, 2011

(Vancouver, B.C.) – Upgraded high-performance computing (HPC) systems with massive memory and exceptional speed are being launched today at two British Columbia universities. This will give researchers the tools to solve problems that have previously been beyond their reach. Nearly $17 million has been invested through the Compute Canada / WestGrid project towards upgrades at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU), with contributions from the Government of Canada through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), as well as the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund, SFU, UBC, Dell and HP.
The work being supported by this infrastructure covers a wide range of fields that focus on computational challenges and “big data” projects, such as those mapping out the genetic composition of individual disease strains. These resources will also enable local academics to collaborate on international research endeavors, including the Large Hadron Collider in Europe.

Fast, Powerful Computing Resources Open Research Doors Background


WestGrid and Compute Canada Announce New Director of Operations

WestGrid and Compute Canada are pleased to welcome Patrick O'Leary as the new Director of Operations for WestGrid. Starting on January 17, O’Leary will oversee the operations of WestGrid’s core network, including network troubleshooting procedures and upgrades, and providing support and project management for WestGrid operations staff and site team leaders at 14 partner institutions across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. O’Leary’s recruitment is the result of an extensive search process for an individual with specific qualities in high level leadership and research. He will be relocating from Wyoming, United States.

“I am excited about moving to Canada to join the WestGrid and Compute Canada team,” said O’Leary. “WestGrid’s goal to continually expand its high performance computing (HPC) facilities to support the needs of multidisciplinary world-class research across the country is aligned with my appetite to create and manage strong relationships and support excellent research.”

University of Manitoba Launches New HPC Resources

One of the world's most energy-efficient supercomputing machines is being launched at the University of Manitoba today. Grex, an SGI Altix® XE1300 cluster, is the latest addition to the WestGrid/Compute Canada framework and is being launched in conjunction with the official opening of the univerity's new High Performance Computer Centre (HPCC). The new computer cluster and HPCC building were made possible by a collaborative $8 million investment from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), Manitoba Research and Innovation Fund (MRIF), University of Manitoba and Silicon Graphics International (SGI). Local researchers, university administration, funders and government officials are gathering at the HPCC today for a launch celebration. “Our government is proud to support Canadian researchers and innovators by investing in world-class facilities such as this,” said Rod Bruinooge, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South, on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. “This Centre will attract investment and industry to Manitoba and strengthen Canada’s reputation for research excellence.” More information on the system capabilities and opportunities for use can be found in the official press release.

WestGrid and Compute Canada Invest Nearly $13 million in HPC at UVic and UofC

Researchers across Canada will soon have access to state-of-the-art high performance computing clusters at the Universities of Victoria and Calgary. The new Compute Canada systems hosted by WestGrid – and worth nearly $13 million combined – will advance research productivity and enable scientists to run sizeable and computationally intensive simulations for analysis. The new systems will be available for use starting in the spring of 2010.

For more details on the new systems' features, click here.

Canadian Researchers Benefit from Optical Simulation Software through Compute/Calcul Canada and WestGrid

A Canadian software company and a leading provider of high performance nanophotonic design software, Lumerical Solutions Inc., is donating 10 simulation engine licenses of its finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) software to Compute/Calcul Canada at one of the new WestGrid installations. The licenses will enable FDTD Solutionsʼ academic customers in Canada to run, at no additional cost, large simulations on any number of the 3072 cores of WestGridʼs Orcinus cluster.cluster with Infiniband interconnect.

Information on FDTD Solutions is available at, and information on how to access the software through WestGrid is available at

Click here to view the full press release

Ocean Observatory Data Heads for Saskatchewan

The Pacific Ocean is about to flow into the Canadian Prairies.

No, it’s not a new global warming scenario. It’s a newly inked agreement that will see a duplicate set of all the scientific data being collected by the world-leading VENUS and NEPTUNE Canada ocean observatories sent to an advanced data storage system at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S).

Led by the University of Victoria (UVic), VENUS and NEPTUNE Canada are transforming the way we study the oceans. Using innovative engineering, data communication and sensor technologies, they’re gathering continuous real-time data and images from the ocean depths and relaying them to a data management and archive system at UVic.

The data storage system at the U of S is a $3.2 million investment involving the university, the province of Saskatchewan, IBM and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. It is the newest addition to an inter-institutional pool of storage and computing facilities managed by WestGrid, an organization that provides high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure to researchers across Canada as part of the national HPC platform, Compute Canada. U of S and UVic are both members of WestGrid. 

The ocean observatory data will be transmitted from Victoria to Saskatoon—at a rate as fast as one gigabit per second—on a dedicated network link provided by CANARIE, Canada’s advanced research and innovation network. 

NEPTUNE Canada is the world’s first regional cabled ocean observatory. Situated on the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate off British Columbia, it is a natural laboratory for studies on ocean change, plate tectonics, geochemistry of the ocean crust, deep sea ecosystems, and ocean engineering. Installation took place this summer; the first public data flow is expected later this fall. For more information visit

For more information click here to view the full press release.

U of S Unveils New Resources To Support Data-Intensive Research

Click here to download the entire Press Release (260 KB PDF).

1 April 2009

(Saskatoon, SK) – New data storage resources at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) will help science, math and engineering faculty uncover more accurate results in a faster timeframe for their large-scale and data-intensive research challenges.

Installation of the new IBM storage system – a $3.2-million investment among WestGrid, the U of S, the Province of Saskatchewan, IBM and the Canada Foundation for Innovation – is the newest addition to WestGrid’s inter-institutional pool of storage and computing facilities. WestGrid is a user-driven organization that provides high-performance computing (HPC), collaboration and visualization infrastructure to researchers across Canada. The U of S is one of 14 partner institutions that support and use WestGrid resources.

“It is clear that robust, high-performing storage is something that is becoming increasingly important for many researchers,” said Raymond Spiteri, U of S professor of computer science and WestGrid’s U of S principal investigator. “There are a number of research projects across Canada, including those related to the Canadian Light Source, that can make use of large data storage.”

WestGrid linked to Nobel Prize in Physics

WestGrid users Randall Sobie (UVic) and Christopher Hearty (UBC), together with Canadian students and researchers at UBC, Victoria, McGill and Montreal, played a major role in the confirmation of the theoretical predictions made in 1972 by the 2008 Nobel laureates in Physics.

The BaBar Experiment is an international collaboration based at the Stanford Linear Accelorator Center at Stanford University with more than 550 physicists and engineers that are trying to understand why the universe is not made of equal amounts of matter and antimatter. The Nobel laureates made a bold prediction about why the universe is made of only matter. Their prediction was the motivation for the construction of the BaBar experiment. The results obtained by BaBar played a major role in the confirmation of the theoretical model.

BaBar uses the WestGrid cluster at the University of British Columbia, as well as the computing clusters funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation at the Universities of Victoria and McGill for the analysis of data and the production of simulated data.

The BaBar experiment was mentioned in the full Nobel Prize Press Release here.


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