Compute Canada and WestGrid

A substantial Compute Canada and WestGrid presence was established at UVic in 2010. Compute Canada, through its four regional divisions WestGrid, Compute Ontario, Calcul Quebec and ACENET, offers shared computing resources for use by researchers at UVic and across Canada. This initial deployment of high performance capability and capacity compute clusters is being re-architected as its initial duty cycle is now complete; over the course of the next several years, components of these clusters will be redeployed to offer advanced research computing resources directly to UVic researchers.

Arbutus

In 2014, UVic, in partnership with WestGrid and the University of Sherbrooke, built out a research cloud computing platform with 640 CPU cores and 600 TB of raw storage. In 2015, after a national competition, UVic was chosen as one of four sites across the country to host a Compute Canada research computing project: a massive national cloud computing resource named Arbutus. The Arbutus system is an OpenStack cloud, which uses virtualization to deliver Infrastructure-as-a-Service resources to support diverse workloads. The system, delivered by Lenovo, has 7,640 CPU cores across 250 nodes, each with on-node storage and 10 Gb networking. It provides 1.6PB of persistent storage, primarily via Ceph in a triply-redundant configuration. The system became operational in September 2016, as an expansion to the Compute Canada “Cloud West” system.

Arbutus Phase 2 is an upgrade project scheduled for early 2018 which will add approximately 1,500 more cores and 4.5 PB of raw Ceph storage capacity, as well as two new Database-as-a-Service nodes to offer high performance structured data access via SQL.

Many workloads that would at one time have required access to a dedicated high-performance computing system can now be served by the research cloud environment. This capacity serves a multidisciplinary research community, including particle physics experiments such as ATLAS, engineering, computer science, math & statistics, social sciences, biology and Earth & ocean sciences.

Storage

Data storage is provided to UVic’s high performance cluster and cloud computing environments through a combination of offerings including Ceph, NFS, Object Storage, and dCache, totalling some PB of total capacity.

Backups for UVic research data share a new converged tape environment with the University’s administrative computing systems, with access to some 2.5 PB of managed backup capacity.

Visualization and Collaboration Infrastructure

Currently, UVic has a dedicated room for visualization and remote collaboration for UVic researchers. The room is equipped with:

  • Dual 3D HDTV screens
  • Polycom H323 Codec
  • Document cameras
  • 3D visualization and audio equipment
  • Powerful Dell server for GPU rendering

Accessing Compute Canada/WestGrid Resources

Compute Canada resources are available to any eligible researcher at a publicly funded Canadian academic or CFI-eligible research institution, regardless of their geographical location. Once registered with Compute Canada, a researcher can directly access the national systems. To access the shared resources available at the region level, a researcher needs to apply for an account at one of the region’s consortia, such as WestGrid. For projects that require large resources, researchers are advised to apply for a RAC allocation. National and Local Resource Allocation Committees (RAC) will work to ensure all Compute Canada resources are being utilized effectively.

For more information, or to apply for access, please see:

https://computecanada.ca/index.php/en/apply-for-an-account

Grid Computing and High-Energy Physics

UVic is involved in several High-Energy Physics (HEP) experiments. In order to support these experiments, UVic provides expertise in grid computing and hosts a grid computing site, which allows local computing and storage resources to join the world’s largest computing grid, the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG). This allows UVic to participate in major international scientific collaborations such as the ATLAS and Belle II experiments.

High Performance Computing (HPC) Specialist

University Systems has a number of staff resources available to assist researchers. In particular, there is an advanced research computing specialist dedicated specifically to providing assistance in using the Compute Canada and WestGrid facilities. This includes everything from gaining system access, to adapting and debugging your software to run efficiently on the clusters, and using the visualization and collaboration systems. To obtain assistance from an advanced research computing specialist, please contact sysadmin@uvic.ca.