The AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow held a ceremony on April 27 to welcome its much-heralded Prometheus supercomputer, named after the Greek god who gave fire to humankind. Packing 1.7 petaflops of peak computational performance, the HP-built machine is the most powerful supercomputer in the history of Poland and the world’s largest installation of HP Apollo 8000 servers.
Purchased through tech companies Megatel and Action for approximately $11.5 million, Prometheus is four times more powerful than Zeus, the center’s previous top number cruncher. Using the current TOP500 list as a yardstick, Prometheus would come in right around 30th place worldwide, depending on how it performed on the LINPACK benchmarking test.
“Prometheus at the beginning of the 21st century Polish science introduces a new era,” commented AGH University Rector Professor Tadeusz Słomka in an official notice. “We believe that the massive computing power will be great to serve scientists from all over Poland to perform the most demanding and time-consuming computing tasks, and inspire them to brave the crossing of the existing borders, thus contributing to a number of spectacular discoveries in various scientific fields.”
The 30 metric ton machine houses 1,728 HP Apollo 8000 InfiniBand-connected servers inside 15 racks. The system contains a total of 41,472 Intel Haswell-EP cores and 216 TB DDR4 memory, with two file systems providing a total capacity of 10 PB.
Keeping all those servers from overheating is achieved trough the use of direct water cooling on both processors and memory modules. With this innovative approach, Prometheus is held up as one of the most energy-efficient computers in its class. The local climate is cold enough to cool the water, which makes this an efficient system from a cost and energy standpoint. Backers also claim it is more reliable than other cooling techniques.
Project officials add that the warm-water cooling technology enables high-density configurations of up to 144 HP servers in a single rack, about twice the compute density that would be possible with traditional air cooling.
Installed in a new purpose-built datacenter, Prometheus will benefit a wide range of disciplines, including chemistry, physics, astrophysics, biology, energy and nanotechnology. Now researchers across Poland are that much closer to designing the next new new wonder material or finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.