Béluga: The latest supercomputer for Canadian researchers

Calcul Québec inaugurates a cutting-edge supercomputer to boost research performance

Imagine a computer 300,000 times faster than a PC, and with 67,000 times more storage space. Such is Béluga, a supercomputer now serving McGill, Quebec, and Canadian researchers.

Located at the École de technologie supérieure in Montreal, Béluga was first made available at the beginning of April and is now the main high performance computing (HPC) infrastructure in the province. “Not only do we provide important computing capacity, but Calcul Québec also helps researchers harness this advanced infrastructure. Our team’s expertise is essential to quality research,“ said Suzanne Talon, CEO for Calcul Québec.

All research projects can benefit from supercomputers. “First used principally in physics and chemistry, Advanced Research Computing is now pivotal in most research areas,” stated Pierre-Étienne Jacques, Chief Science Officer for Calcul Québec and one of 2,300 users relying on the organization’s resources and expertise. Supercomputers are used today in environment, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and life sciences including genomics and neuroscience. Furthermore, large computing capacity has also fostered advances in the field of artificial intelligence by Québec researchers.

Béluga’s name refers to the iconic white whale found in the St. Lawrence River. It is the latest addition to Compute Canada’s network of supercomputers, which includes Cedar at Simon Fraser University, Arbutus at University of Victoria, Niagara at University of Toronto and Graham at University of Waterloo.

Preparation of this valuable resource was a collective effort by Calcul Québec’s teams at McGill University, Université de Montréal, Université Laval and Université de Sherbrooke. The project was funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Government of Québec and the Fonds de recherche du Québec. Congratulating Calcul Québec for this achievement was CFI’s President and CEO Roseann O’Reilly Runte, who noted that the CFI’s significant investment in state-of-the-art computing and storage equipment provides the necessary resources for Canadian researchers to keep pushing the boundaries of innovation.

Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation for the Government of Québec declares, “Our government is proud of its $12.8 million contribution in support of the Béluga project. Innovation is a key element of flourishing economies and prosperous societies. Through innovation, Québec will be more productive and able to meet the future’s major challenges. Béluga is a state-of-the-art supercomputer and was made available through the exceptional teamwork of our research and teaching institutions. It will become an essential part of advancing research in Quebec.”