WINTER 2005, Vol. 3, Issue 1

in this issue:

Our vision of an integrated, multi-disciplinary and inter-institutional research institute, enabling globally-competitive research and discovery, continues to gain momentum.

I am pleased to have assumed the role of SHARCNET Board Chair, replacing Dr. Nils Petersen, a SHARCNET founder and long-time advocate, as he moved on to the position of Director General of the NRC’s National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) in Edmonton. On behalf of the Board and the entire SHARCNET community, I would like to express our immense appreciation and gratitude for Dr. Petersen’s pivotal role in both establishing SHARCNET and helping to develop it into a leading research centre.

SHARCNET is a dynamic research-driven organization that strives to support the best research and to promote applications of high performance computing to challenges and opportunities in society. We continue to grow and change to reflect this ethos. On November 1, the Board instituted a new organizational model which places the Scientific Director, Dr. Hugh Couchman, a renowned astrophysicist, in a leadership role for the organization.

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Carmen Gicante, former Executive Director, for his contributions and leadership over the past two and a half years as SHARCNET was being established as a premier HPC centre on both the national and international stage.

There are also many new faces on the Board itself. Dr. Mike Bauer, Chair of Computer Science at The University of Western Ontario, has joined the Board to act as a representative for the researcher community; Andrew Bjerring, President and CEO of CANARIE will act as the Board’s national representative, and Ian Hardgrove, President and General Manager of 3M Canada, will bring a new and unique perspective from the private sector environment.

I look forward to working with my fellow Board members, the SHARCNET researcher community, our staff, partners and funding agencies to ensure the continued success of the organization. We will also be striving to ensure that SHARCNET complements and strengthens the high performance computing capacity throughout Ontario and Canada.

Alan Wildeman
SHARCNET Board of Directors
VP Research
University of Guelph


SHARCNET and the science of the small
    SHARCS invade S2004        

SHARCNET, and much of Canadian HPC, is undergoing an important transition. Like SHARCNET, many consortia are into their second round of CFI and provincial funding and moving from successful start-ups to growing and maturing organizations with track records and increased responsibilities to a burgeoning researcher base. The success of SHARCNET and others has led to increased attention by funding agencies and governments to the needs of the research community for HPC and to the challenges of sustaining an infrastructure that is dependent on a rapidly evolving technology.

This summer SHARCNET was awarded $19.3M by the Ontario government to match our CFI award and this allowed us to move forward with planning for the next installation of computer infrastructure. Largely because of significant technology evolution over the 18 months since our application, it was decided to go out to a competitive request for proposals. In parallel with vendor and equipment selection over the next quarter we are undertaking the required machine room renovations and coordinating planning across our 11 partners, all the while continuing to provide a high level of availability and support on existing systems.

The last two years has seen a growing awareness among the user community and provincial and federal funding agencies of the need to develop strategies for sustained funding for HPC infrastructure and personnel. HPCVL and SHARCNET are involved in developing strategies to ensure efficient and coordinated provision and use of resources in Ontario. Nationally, the long-range plan in which SHARCNET has been closely involved is nearing completion. These initiatives are leading to a new understanding of the need for sustained support of HPC and new responsibilities for how large HPC use is coordinated.

Operationally, all of our systems have been running at full capacity for well over a year and demand continues to rise, highlighting the pressing need for new infrastructure. Contributions of equipment to SHARCNET by researchers with CFI New Opportunities and other funds have added over three hundred processors since the Spring and helped alleviate some of the most acute short-term demands.

Our key short-term technical thrust is to develop a framework for tight integration of all SHARCNET resources with the goal being seamless availability of any resource to all SHARCNET researchers independent of the location of either. We aim to anticipate the installation of the new hardware so as to quickly realize its full capability. The fundamental aim of SHARCNET remains, of course, to enable forefront research using HPC, and the opportunities promised by the new infrastructure are truly exciting.

Hugh M.P. Couchman
SHARCNET Scientific Director
Fellow, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIAR)
Professor, Physics and Astronomy
McMaster University



SHARCNET to host HPCS 2005


HPCS2005: the 19th annual symposium on high performance computing systems and applications, a multi-disciplinary meeting to discuss new and exciting scientific and technical work involving High Performance Computing, will be hosted by SHARCNET at the University of Guelph, May 15-18, 2005. Researchers from all disciplines in the sciences, engineering, mathematics and applied human sciences are invited to participate.

The conference will focus on Research Directions in High Performance Computing, Education and Consortia, both nationally and internationally.

Invited speakers:

David H. Bailey
Chief Technologist, Computational Research Department
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Alan Blatecky
Deputy Director
Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI)

Jonathan M. Borwein, FRSC, CRC
Professor, Computer Science
Dalhousie University

Robert D. Moser, Professor
Theoretical and Applied Mechanics
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Visit for more details.