The Week in Review
Here is a collection of highlights from this week’s news stream as reported by HPCwire.
OCF Upgrades University of Edinburgh’s ‘Eddie’ Supercomputer
UK HPC integrator OCF plc has completed significant upgrades to the University of Edinburg’s HPC system, known as ”Eddie” (get it?). The enhancements have more than doubled the computing power available to multi-disciplinary researchers, enabling them to run more complex computer simulations, more quickly. The new Eddie will benefit innovations in fields such as bioinformatics, speech processing, particle physics, material physics, chemistry, cosmology, medical imaging and psychiatry.
Reflecting a current, and much needed, trend, the new system will generate less heat, despite its increased power, and will actually use less energy than its previous iteration. This is due in part to energy-efficiency upgrades in the Intel Westmere platform, as well as water-cooling features that remove all of the heat generated by the system close to the source. Additionally, the Scottish air helps cool the water year-round.
This is the first UK deployment of Intel’s Westmere E5620 Quad Core processors in IBM iDataPlex servers. According to the press release, the HPC system design incorporates the following:
- IBM System x iDataPlex servers, running Intel’s latest CPU Westmere E5620 Quad Core processors.
- 40 TB of high performance data storage using IBM System Storage DS5100 and a combination of fibre channel and solid state drives, fully integrated with an existing 90 TB of SATA storage using IBM’s General Parallel File System (GPFS).
- A combination of BLADE Network Technologies GB8124R 24-port 10Gb Ethernet switches and Qlogic 12300 36-port QDR InfiniBand switches, also BLADE Network Technologies G8000 1Gb Ethernet switches.
The new-and-improved Eddie went live this month, and another renovation is already scheduled for 2011, with a plan to increase computing power five-fold. Design, build, configuration, implementation and support of the system upgrade will again be provided by OCF.
First-of-a-Kind Water-Cooling Techology Deployed
For those of you keeping an eye on the novel water-cooling technology that is Aquasar, the system is now fully operational. IBM announced this week that it has delivered an innovative hot water-cooled supercomputer to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich). The system, dubbed Aquasar, consumes up to 40 percent less energy than a comparable air-cooled machine, and by using the waste heat to supply warmth to university buildings, cuts carbon dioxide emissions up to 85 percent.
Aquasar began developement a year ago as part of IBM’s First-Of-A-Kind (FOAK) program. The supercomputer consists of special water-cooled IBM BladeCenter servers and also includes traditional air-cooled IBM BladeCenter servers, to allow for direct comparisons. Together, the system has six teraflops of power and an energy-efficiency of 450 megaflops per watt. Nine kilowatts of thermal power, waste heat from the system, are fed into the ETH Zurich’s building heating system.
Water is an excellent coolant, with the ability to remove heat about 4,000 times more efficiently than air. An overview of the liquid-cooling process is included in the announcement:
The processors and numerous other components in the new high performance computer are cooled with up to 60 degrees C [140 degrees F] warm water. This is made possible by an innovative cooling system that comprises micro-channel liquid coolers which are attached directly to the processors, where most heat is generated. With this chip-level cooling the thermal resistance between the processor and the water is reduced to the extent that even cooling water temperatures of up to 60 degrees C ensure that the operating temperatures of the processors remain well below the maximally allowed 85 degrees C [185 degrees F]. The high input temperature of the coolant results in an even higher-grade heat at the output, which in this case is up to 65 degrees C.
For more information, including a short video, check out a prior announcement here.
Aquasar is installed at the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering at ETH Zurich.