When you are unveiling equipment that could have a life-changing impact, it is understandable for you to want to do something special. But there is something particularly masochistic about choosing to conduct a live videostream between five different cities for such an event — particularly when there are dozens of academics, innovators and government representatives speaking, and witnessing, in each location.
Interim Executive Director of Compute Canada, Jill Kowalchuk, said she had deliberately not organized such a multi-streamed event in over eight years. It would take a momentous occasion for her to want to do another one.
But then, yesterday was a momentous occasion.
Over $17 million worth of high performance computing and data storage resources have been rolled out in facilities across Alberta as part of a WestGrid/Compute Canada launch. The Universities of Alberta, Calgary, Lethbridge, Athabasca and The Banff Centre have all received improved computing equipment with the capacity to process and store large amounts of data, at great speed.
Why is this important? Simply put, these resources make discoveries possible. Breakthroughs in health, space, environmental and energy research are dependent on computers than can sort through — and find solutions within — large amounts of data.
They will also secure Canada's position as a globally competitive location for high-level, important research. We need to stay current in order to attract the small pool of top researchers that countries across the world are vying to have working within their borders. Launches such as this are very important for maintaining such a reputation.
The investment into high performance computing in Alberta was made through Compute Canada / WestGrid, with contributions from the participating facilities, federal and provincial government partners, as well private companies. It represents three years of planning, upgrading and tinkering.
And ultimately, it was worth a stressful launch. (Which, incidentally, ran smoothly — further demonstrating our technical know-how).
To find out more about the computing resources unveiled, please click here.