IBM Supercomputer Bolsters Cancer Research

Toronto, Ontario – 27 Jun 2008: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced the deployment of Canada’s fastest research supercomputer at the Ontario Cancer Institute, University Health Network. The new system will aid in the search for more effective cancer treatments.

This ground-breaking research analyzes millions of images of proteins. Through automation, high resolution imaging and sophisticated computer-based image classification, researchers are attempting to more quickly identify the structure of disease-related proteins, and thus improve our ability to design new treatments for cancer.

The new IBM System Cluster 1350 supercomputer incorporates IBM’s recently announced DCS9550 Disk Storage System, as well as Deep Computing Visualization to create high-resolution images required for the research analysis. The system includes 1,344 processor cores in the Linux cluster running at 12.5 teraflops (trillion calculations per second) with 150 TB of storage, making it one of the fastest research clusters in Canada.

The research is led by Dr. Igor Jurisica, at the Ontario Cancer Institute, working in collaboration with scientists at Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network and Buffalo’s Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute.

“We need to better understand the specific function and interactions of proteins that cause cancer,” said Dr. Jurisica. “This research will enable us to diagnose cancer earlier, before symptoms appear, to have the best chance of treating disease.”

Hauptman-Woodward has been conducting millions of experiments that have captured nearly 100 million images of 10,000 unique proteins, important to cancer and other diseases.

The supercomputer was made possible by grants from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation and an in-kind donation by IBM for the hardware, software and services. The computing complex also houses a custom-built data centre, which has been adapted to fit into Toronto’s historic MaRS research building.

In November, 2007, Dr. Jurisica’s research was added to the World Community Grid as a Help Conquer Cancer project. The Grid works on a network of approximately one million PCs and laptops using donated processing time. The combined computing power of the Grid is equivalent to one of the world’s top five fastest supercomputers.

The Ontario Cancer Institute’s new supercomputer will allow data to get on the Grid for complex analysis, and enable faster and more detailed analysis of results from the Grid computation. In simple terms, this supercomputer can do more calculations in one second than every Canadian doing one calculation per second for four days without stopping. It is ranked in 395 position in the recently announced Top 500 list of global supercomputers.

For more information on the Ontario Cancer Institute, visit

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For more information on the World Community Grid, visit