June 18, 2009

Canada’s newest supercomputer makes debut

Canada's fastest supercomputer was powered up and put online Wednesday north of Toronto to conduct research in planetary physics, aerospace and medicine.

The University of Toronto's IBM System x iDataPlex can perform more than 300 trillion calculations a second on 30,240 processors and is among the 15 fastest computers in the world, and the fastest outside the United States, the Globe and Mail reported Thursday.

The $50 million system's internal data transfer rate is roughly equivalent to two DVD movies per second, the report said.

Its peak electrical consumption is equivalent to the use by 4,000 homes, but unused processors shut down after 10 minutes of idle time, IBM officials said. Canada's winter climate also will be used to cool the building, which the newspaper described as resembling a warehouse full of refrigerators.

However, developers said with the rate of technological development, the system's ranking will no doubt be overshadowed in a few years.

The world's fastest supercomputer is the Roadrunner hybrid at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the report said.