posted on Nov. 16: SHARCNET fact sheet




SHARCNET (Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network), based at The University of Western Ontario, is a network of high-performance Beowulf computer clusters.
The primary clusters have been deployed at Western, the University of Guelph and McMaster University. Smaller development clusters have also been deployed at the University of Windsor, Wilfrid Laurier University, Sheridan College and Fanshawe College.

The Vision of SHARCNET:

The vision of SHARCNET is to establish a world-leading, multi-university, interdisciplinary institute with an active academic-industry partnership, enabling forefront computational research in critical areas of science, engineering, medicine and business.

Examples of research SHARCNET will help to advance:

7 Design of fuel-efficient aircraft wings

7 Origins of stars and star clusters

7 Testing new theories of quantum gravity

7 Optimizing cancer treatment strategies

7 Human genomics

7 Proteomics (protein research)

7 Resource management across computational clusters

7 Computational grids

7 'E-science' – using the internet and inter-site/inter-organizational networks to carry out scientific research

7 Design of new semiconductor and optoelectronic devices

7 Modeling the movement of heat and matter in Earth's interior

7 Optimizing power output of nuclear reactors

7 Understanding high-temperature superconductors

7 High-performance computer visualization of molecular structure and reactivity

SHARCNET's Supercomputing Powers:

7 Recently, the three SHARCNET sites at McMaster, Western and Guelph were listed in the top 500 computer sites in the world, at, based on their computing power. Only eight other Canadian sites made the list.

7 SHARCNET'S largest machine “Greatwhite,” located at Western, is the most powerful computer in Canada available for use by university researchers. It is the 11th most powerful academic computer centre in North America.

7 SHARCNET systems represent 27 per cent of all of the supercomputing power available in Canada.

7 SHARCNET systems represent half of the supercomputing capability operated by universities in Canada.

7 SHARCNET facilities exceed in power those operated by some of the best research institutions in the world, including Cambridge, Princeton, Cornell and Caltech. Harvard, MIT and Stanford University do not appear on the list.

7 SHARCNET's supercomputing power is greater than that of the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Co. and American Airlines, just to name a few.

Job Creation:

SHARCNET will create the following job opportunities:

7 Fourteen new faculty positions

7 For each year of ORDCF funding, SHARCNET will create world-class training opportunities for more than 60 new students and postdoctoral researchers.

7 SHARCNET directly employs a support staff of more than 10 people.

7 SHARCNET's ability to attract private sector partners to establish new or enhanced operations in southwestern Ontario will indirectly create many employment opportunities.

SHARCNET's Hardware:

Built on the latest Alpha processors, SHARCNET clusters consist of four-processor, 833Mhz, Alpha SMP (symmetric multi-processors) systems connected via Quadrics interconnection technology. Clusters of 24 SMPs (96 processors) are deployed at McMaster and 27 SMPs (108 processors) are deployed at the University of Guelph.

Western has two clusters, one of 12 SMPs (48 processors) and one of 36 SMPs (144 processors), connected using Nortel's optical DWDM (Dense Wave Division Multiplexing). Smaller development clusters (8 processors) are deployed at the University of Windsor and Wilfrid Laurier University to enable researchers to develop software and test it before using one of the larger clusters. Educational systems will be deployed at Fanshawe College and Sheridan College to provide students with access to parallel computing systems.

Government Partners:

7 Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund (ORDCF) – $8.4 million

7 Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) – $6.6 million

7 Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT) – $6.6 million

Academic Partners (total contribution of $8.5 million):

7 University of Western Ontario

7 McMaster University

7 University of Guelph

7 University of Windsor

7 Wilfrid Laurier University

7 Sheridan College

7 Fanshawe College

Industry Partners:

7 Compaq Canada – $7 million
7 Quadrics Supercomputing World, Platform Computing, Nortel Networks and Bell Canada – total of $4 million

SHARCNET Executive:

Board of Governors:

Nils O. Petersen (Chair), University of Western Ontario;

Attahiru Alfa, University of Windsor;
John Berlinski, McMaster University;
Art Szabo, Wilfrid Laurier University;
Alan Wildeman, University of Guelph;
Greg Chappell, Compaq Canada

Principal Investigator
Mike Bauer, Western

Executive Committee:
Allan MacIsaac, Western;
Hugh Couchman, McMaster;
Deborah Stacey, Guelph

Research Director:
Peter Poole, Western