High performance computing (HPC)

In 2017, Shared Services Canada (SSC) upgraded its existing High Performance Computing (HPC) environment with a new, state-of-the-art IT solution. Composed of supercomputers, is the fastest recorded computer platform in the Government of Canada and among the fastest in the world.

The HPC solution is used primarily by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to improve the accuracy and timeliness of weather warnings and forecasts and protect the health and safety of Canadians. Additional Government of Canada organizations benefit from this resource, including Health Canada for air quality alerts, Fisheries and Oceans Canada to support ocean modelling and Public Safety Canada to support environmental emergency prevention.

super computer

High Performance Computer

Facts about SSC’s High Performance Computers

Enhancing the accuracy of weather forecasting services for Canadians

  • SSC has upgraded its supercomputers which support Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to enhance their performance and computing capacity.
  • This modern, secure and reliable information technology infrastructure is needed to deliver more accurate weather, water and climate services to Canadians.
  • The work the supercomputers produce is valuable to almost every sector of the economy, including health sciences, environmental management, agriculture and transportation.
  • Businesses across the country depend on accurate weather information to assist them in sound decision-making and families rely on it in their day to day lives.
  • The SSC supercomputers provide the newest technology and computing capacity for accurate and timely weather forecasts to protect the health and safety of Canadians.
  • Better air quality alerts will also improve the quality of life of all Canadians, including the middle class.
  • The SSC supercomputers are used for large-scale simulations, such as weather prediction and other complex scientific models.
  • They simulate current atmospheric conditions and calculate how they change over time, giving Canadians one of the most advanced weather systems in the world.
  • These systems operate 24/7, 365 days a year to produce severe weather warnings such as tornadoes and hurricanes.
  • With the new supercomputers in place, SSC works with Environment and Climate Change Canada to enhance support to emergency responders and better meet the needs of Canada in its continued collaborations with other G8 countries in sharing forecast results.
  • Additional government organizations will benefit from these upgraded SSC services: Health Canada for air quality alerts, Fisheries and Oceans Canada to support ocean modelling and Public Safety Canada to support environmental emergency prevention—to name just a few.
  • The supercomputers will also improve overall service by providing a secure information technology infrastructure and increased computing, storage and bandwidth capacity to meet future requirements.

Faster….with better storage

  • SSC’s new supercomputers are the fastest in the Government of Canada, as per the TOP500 supercomputer organization, and among the fastest in the world.
  • These supercomputers are close to 70 million times faster than ECCC’s first supercomputer, a CDC7600 bought in 1974.
  • The new computers are five times faster than the old one at 2,444 trillion calculations per second compared to the previous 500 trillion calculations per second.
  • The new supercomputers are fully backed up. They are installed in two separate data halls with independent electrical, cooling and fire suppression systems.
  • They feature over 270 petabytes of storage, which is equal to 550,000 years of music listening or 5.8 billion Blu-ray disks. This would require 15,000 years to download at home.

Dedicated to science

  • In recognition of their contributions to the Canadian scientific community, two supercomputers are being named after Canadian scientists, Harriet Brooks and Dr. Kenneth Hare.
  • Panels have been installed on the supercomputers racks to feature their portraits.
    • Harriet Brooks (1876–1933) was Canada’s first female nuclear physicist who worked with Marie Curie and later contributed to research on radon gas.
    • Dr. Kenneth Hare (1919–2002) was a Canadian environmental science advocate and one of the first to raise the alarm about carbon-driven climate change.
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