The University of Toronto and IBM Corp. are building what will be Canada's most powerful supercomputer, a mammoth machine capable of performing 360 trillion calculations per second.

IBM and the University of Toronto's SciNet Consortium, which includes the university and associated hospitals, said the new supercomputer will be the largest supercomputer outside the United States and among the 20 most powerful in the world.

It will also be 30 times faster than the peak performance of Canada's current largest research system, IBM said.

The supercomputer will be put to work on a number of research projects, including research in climate change prediction, medical imaging, aerospace, astrophysics, chemical physics, and the ATLAS project, an international investigation in particle physics that will study the collisions in the Swiss-based Large Hadron Collider.

Richard Peltier, the scientific director of SciNet and director of the Centre for Global Change Science said in a statement the supercomputer will help the University of Toronto become "one of the world's premier computational research institutions — a collaboration that will attract researchers from around the world."

The new supercomputer will use IBM's iDataPlex system, introduced earlier this year, which doubles the number of  processors per computer server rack. More than 4,000 servers will be linked using this system.

A data centre will be built just north of Toronto and the main computing systems should be fully operational by the summer of 2009, IBM said.

Canadian Foundation for Innovation's National Platforms Fund, in partnership with the Province of Ontario and the University of Toronto, have provided funding for the project, which has an estimated cost of just under $50 million over five years.