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Canadian Supercomputer to Help Probe Fundamental Structure of Matter

News Release | For Immediate Release | October 19, 2007

Canada Contributes Computer Horsepower Supplied by IBM

(Vancouver, BC) -- TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, announced today that the ATLAS Tier-1 Data Analysis Centre is ready for production after a significant hardware upgrade. The upgrade increases the computing power and the disk storage by a factor of about seven and adds a tape silo to store the raw data from ATLAS. The Tier-1 centre is now one of the most powerful computing facilities in Canada.

The new supercomputer built by IBM incorporates IBM's newly announced DCS9550 Disk Storage System. After passing extensive acceptance tests, the system has been integrated into an international "grid" of high-performance computing centres that will analyze data from the global ATLAS project, commencing in the summer of 2008.

A team of researchers from a consortium of 10 Canadian universities (see below) and TRIUMF are participating in the ATLAS experiment in Geneva. ATLAS will study proton-proton collisions at the highest energy ever achieved in the laboratory and will search for the elusive Higgs particle. The Higgs boson is an essential ingredient in the theory of how the mass of subatomic particles is generated.

The conditions created in the high-energy collisions will be similar to those that existed during the Big Bang. To accomplish this, the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) is building the world's largest particle collider, the LHC, which has a circumference of 27 kilometers.

The Canadian team will use the IBM System Cluster 1350 supercomputer, located at TRIUMF in Vancouver, to analyze information churned out by the ATLAS experiment, estimated to be equivalent to half a million DVDs worth of data every year for as long as the experiment will run. TRIUMF's IBM System Cluster 1350 was specially designed to handle the large amounts of data processing required by the CERN experiments.

The Tier-1 data centre was funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund, and a contribution by IBM.

"We are extremely pleased to have the first phase of the data analysis centre complete," said Michel Vetterli, a professor of physics at Simon Fraser University and TRIUMF, who is the leader of the Tier-1 project. "The system has performed very well during full-scale tests where it was incorporated into the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid. The ground-breaking discoveries enabled by the Tier 1 will revolutionize the way we describe the universe at the most fundamental scale."

"The CERN ATLAS experiment will push the boundaries of computational processing and data storage beyond anything the world has seen before," said Chris Pratt, Strategic Initiatives Executive, IBM Canada. "IBM's technology and expertise is an integral part of enabling the next generation of global scientific exploration right here in Canada."


TRIUMF is Canada's National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics. Located on the south campus of the University of British Columbia, TRIUMF is owned and operated as a joint venture by a consortium of the following Canadian universities, via a contribution through the National Research Council Canada: University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, Carleton University, University of Guelph, University of Manitoba, McMaster University, Université de Montréal, Queen's University, University of Regina, Simon Fraser University, Saint Mary's University, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, York University.



The ATLAS-Canada Collaboration consists of: University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, Carleton University, McGill University, Universite de Montreal, University of Regina, Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, York University, and TRIUMF. For more information, visit



CERN is building the world's biggest and most powerful particle accelerator - the 27-km Large Hadron Collider. The experiments are designed to provide a deeper understanding of the universe. For more information, visit



IBM collaborates with innovators and decision makers whose core business or research demands intense computation to advance technology to solve real business and industry problems. Together we're accelerating new uses of technology into areas previously limited by cost, knowledge or imagination. IBM delivers innovative, powerful, open High Performance Computing (HPC) solutions to address your demands for intense computation, visualization, or manipulation and management of massive amounts of data. For more information, visit



The IBM System Cluster 1350 is designed for a broad range of supercomputer application environments, including industrial design and manufacturing, financial services, life sciences, government and education. The IBM System Cluster 1350 leverages IBM's extensive supercomputing experience to help minimize complexity and risk. Using advanced Intel Xeon, AMD Opteron, and IBM PowerPC processor-based server nodes, proven cluster management software and optional high-speed interconnects, the Cluster 1350 offers the best of IBM and third-party technology. For more information visit



Dr. Timothy I. Meyer
Head, Strategic Planning and Communications
Tel: 604.222.7674
Fax: 604.222.3791
Cell: 650.464.8955
Email: Tim Meyer

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