Consortium Laval UQAM McGill and Eastern Quebec

CLUMEQ is an abbreviation that stands for Consortium Laval UQAM McGill and Eastern Quebec, a computing system that has an important role to play in Canada's supercomputing network. Based at the McGill University, the supercomputer was launched in 2002 and received a total of $8 million in grants from the Quebec's Ministry of Education and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.


The main goal is to offer academics and researchers access to visualization and numerical stimulation across disciplines such as environmental science, physical science, computer science, medicine, and engineering. In 2002, the supercomputer was tested to solve a problem that would take three and a half years if a standard desktop computer was used. The goal was to solve the problem in 24 hours. 250 processors were used to execute more than 2,000 units. A total of 1,050 processors executed the remaining units.

New Developments

Things have changed since then and today, supercomputers are no longer associated with exact sciences such as astrophysics, environmental science, aerodynamics, telecommunications, engineering, and chemistry. Today, supercomputers are also used in fields such as high technology, entertainment, transportation, finance, medicine, and others. Calcul Québec combines CLUMEQ with RQCHP, which is another computing system. The goal is to offer computing facilities and resources to scientists and academics in Quebec. RQCHP was created in 1999, and the project brought together several partner institutions of higher education, including the University of Montreal, Concordia University, Bishop's University, and École Polytechnique. The fusion of the two computing systems aims to offer researchers access to enhanced capabilities and improved infrastructure. The goal is also to offer researchers across Canada access to high-performance computing capabilities, regardless of location. Calcul Quebec is also expected to serve new and emerging sectors. Since the fusion of the two systems, the resources and capabilities have been used by more than 1,900 individual users and 550 research teams.

Experts in different disciplines offer support to researchers, including humanities, chemistry, physics, and others. There are also experts that offer training and support to teach researchers how to create grids and portals. The administrators also have considerable expertise in software security and services, network virtualization, computing storage, and a lot more. Training programs and workshops have been organized on different occasions to offer training and support to interested parties, including industry players, students, and researchers. Summer schools have been organized as well as intense workshops.

Thanks to the concerted efforts on the part of the Calcul Quebec team, the computing capabilities are now used across disciplines such as computer and information science, astronomy, medical science, environmental and earth science, and biological and life sciences. Other disciplines include physics, engineering, biochemistry, and chemistry. The majority of researchers using the computing network come from Université de Sherbrooke (35 percent) and McGill University (32 percent). Academics from other institutions also take advantage of the resources, including Polytechnique Montreal, Institut National de Recherche Scientifique, Concordia University, Ouranos, and others. About 15 percent of users are based at the Universite de Montreal.


The supercomputer has a density of 1MW and thirty thousand processing cores. The team at the computing facility, which is based in Quebec, worked in cooperation with Sun Microsystems to create a data center which was previously a large silo. The silo is a cylindrical facility and formerly the home to the Van de Graaf particle accelerator. The CLUMEQ cylinder is fitted with an outside ring to supply cold air while the center of the facility houses a hot core. The cabinets are situated in a circle on each floor of the building. The floors of the facility are made of grates to ensure that there is sufficient airflow in the building. The basement of the building holds the air handlers and cooling coils, and cold air moves upward through the server racks and outside isle. A cold isle is used so that hot air flows downward to the basement. Differential air pressure is used to sustain this upward and downward air movement. The blowing capacity of the air in the facility is some 180,000 CFM which is enough to cool down about 1.5MW.

Funding Supercomputer Projects in Canada

Government funding for supercomputer projects is available in Canada to help support the development of leading-edge technology at different institutions of higher education. Funding offered by provincial governments has been used to this end. Supercomputers are used by universities and consortiums that work hard to bring innovation across different areas and industries, including cybersecurity, energy, digital media, health, mining, agile computing, and more.

Government Funding

The government of Ontario offered funding in the amount of more than $10 million to the High Performance Computing Virtual Laboratory at the Queen's University. The laboratory is a network that comprises 7 research institutions, including Seneca College, Ryerson University, the Loyalist College, Carleton University, the University of Ottawa, and the Royal Military College. All institutions are based in Ottawa. The goal is to offer high-speed computations to academics in different disciplines, including civil engineering, economics, psychology, photonics, and population health. These supercomputers are used for analysis and calculations that may take many years if you use a standard computer. The government of Ontario also funded another network, the Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network at the University of Ontario. In 2006, the funding amounted to $10.9 million. The network includes 16 academic institutions, among which the Ontario Institute of Technology, Wilfrid Laurier, Sheridan College, Fanshawe College, and Ontario College of Art & Design. The network offers support to researchers across different disciplines and fields, from financial risk management models to ways to eradicate cow's disease.


In April 2017, a new research computing system was to launch thanks to the cooperation between WestGrid, Compute Canada, and the Simon Fraser University. Cedar, the new ARC system is one of Canada's four advanced data and supercomputing systems to offer academics an improved access to capabilities, expertise, and resources. The new computing system is comprised of 50 old legacy systems and a total of 27 data centres. The plan is to consolidate them into 5 - 10 data centres during the next year. Funding of $75 million has been used to create the new ARC system. Funding partners include businesses, provincial partners, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which is a funding entity with a focus on technological research, advance, and innovation. The new supercomputer has a huge storage capacity and exceptional computation and processing capabilities to help academics in Canada with their research efforts and take research to a whole different level.

This is great news in light of the fact that in 2016, Canadian researchers working on federally funded projects warned that they were falling behind. This is mainly due to the fact that they lack access to advanced supercomputing systems. They were forced to switch to research of smaller scale and scope because of this. They also found it more difficult to compete internationally. To solve this problem, the Canadian government must ensure that researchers have a better access to computational capabilities and high performance supercomputing systems. The existing digital structure is simply insufficient to support the large volume of research projects funded by the federal government. Researchers actually warned that some investigations and research projects cannot be done at all in Canada. The new supercomputing system has the potential to solve this problem at least in part and help scientists deal with some of the challenges and constraints.

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