A $48-million project to unite four supercomputing installations at four universities in western Canada has been completed, WestGrid recently announced.

WestGrid is a partnership between the University of British Columbia (UBC), the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and Simon Fraser University. The schools are joined by a gigabit Ethernet fibre-optic connection. Because the infrastructure enables the transfer of large volumes of data it will mean better inter-university collaboration for research scientists.

The initiative was funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Alberta and Research Authority and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund.

“WestGrid is really about shared resources and high performance computing,” said Ken Hewitt, chief administrative officer at WestGrid in Calgary. “There’s a wide range of researchers in all kinds of disciplines that require computational power to do their work. One of the issues is that different kinds of research require different kinds of computing power, so at WestGrid we’ve acquired three high-performance computing systems.”

Hewitt said WestGrid will help support research in disciplines such as astronomy, molecular modeling and pharmaceutical research.

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