Aquila Debuts Warm Water Cooled OCP Server

By Tiffany Trader

September 15, 2016

New Mexico-based technology firm Aquila is announcing the first OCP-inspired server rack to use fixed cold plate liquid cooling technology. Based on the Facebook-initiated Open Compute Project (OCP) standard, the Aquarius rack integrates patented third-generation cooling technology designed by Clustered Systems. The platform supports up to 108 Xeon servers per rack and will target high density HPC and hyperscale computing applications.

aquila-aquarius-36-board-insert
Shown: 12OU insert in Aquarius rack

The OCP width enables three Intel Kennedy Pass server boards to be placed under each of the cold plates. 36 servers fit in a 12 OU modular insert and up to three inserts can be stacked in a 48 OU OCP rack for a total 108 servers. Fully-outfitted with server nodes, the Aquarius rack still has 3U available for top-of-rack switching. The other HPC-focused OCP rack design on the market, Tundra-ES from Penguin Computing, supports up to 96 servers in a rack.

There’s also room in each node for two 2.5-inch hard drives or SSDs to support virtualized and hybridized storage approaches.

A future Aquarius product will hold up to 72 Adams Pass Knights Landing server nodes. In this configuration, two of the slightly-wider Adams Pass boards fit under each cold plate for a total of 24 per insert (x3 per rack). Stuffed with the top-bin KNLs (the 7290s), four Aquarius racks can support a theoretical peak performance of just under 1 petaflops.

The liquid cooling design from Clustered Systems uses cold plate technology to cool the entire server: the CPUs, the DIMMs and any components that consume more than 2 watts. Founder and CEO of Clustered Phil Hughes explained the heat from the lower power components (< 2 watts) is dissipated through the board and collected by the cold plate by a variety of means, namely radiation, conduction and convection.

“With Asetek and CoolIT, what they do is put little blocks on top of the CPUs and pass water through those individual blocks so it can only cool the CPU and nothing else, so you’ve only got half a solution,” said Hughes.

aquila-aquarius-thermal-interface-material
Aquila’s server proto-tray with compliant Thermal Interface Material

Hughes referenced another vendor that employs a single cooling array that fits over two CPUs. Using lids that were not fully coplanar resulted in insufficient thermal contact to cool both CPUs, said Hughes.

“We solved that problem several years ago by the invention of a highly-compliant highly-conductive thermal interface, which when it’s pressed on top of the blocks it flows so there’s a very good thermal contact between the blocks that are sitting on the CPUs, the tops of the DIMMs and the other components and the cold plate itself,” said Hughes. “We’re able to cool everything and to do it in such a way that it is very easy to remove a server and service it and push it back in again without having to disconnect tubes and deal with leaks and so on.”

The cold plate itself is hard-soldered into the rack to an input and output manifold. There’s two large pipes going up the back and some very small pipes going into each cold plate so it doesn’t get in the way of wiring, Hughes explained.

aquila-aquarius-input-outputThe liquid cooling system uses 30 degree Celcius ASHRAE-spec water piped directly into the chassis. This eliminates the need for a coolant distribution unit. There’s also no need for fans, so no fan vibration.

Said Hughes, “The fact that we’ve removed all the fans and individual power supplies and we’ve eliminated all those electro-mechanical parts that are prone to failure in a large scaled-out system – it’s generally going to improve reliability. We’re also keeping very steady control of the thermal junction temperatures of the semiconductor, which also contributes to long-term reliability.

“We ran an earlier system at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory for almost two years accumulating about two million server hours with zero failures on any component in the system. That’s the sort of the thing you can expect when you get rid of all those fan vibrations, plus a more peaceful environment,” Hughes added.

The partners say another advantage is the ability to operate continuously in server mode. “We confirmed here in New Mexico, under a full rack load we can run Turbo full-duty cycle 100 percent of the time and not get into the thermal shutdown conditions,” said Bob Bolz, head of Aquila’s HPC and datacenter business development. “We never even get close to the thermal limits where the microprocessor starts to throttle itself down. The implication is that with a lower bin cheaper CPU you can boost your performance to 100 percent Turbo duty cycle and perhaps get 15-25 percent more performance out of the same cheaper bin.”

They claim to have been able to get a teraflops (LINPACK) out of the system per board using dual-socket E5-2697 WS v4s with 64 Gig of RAM running Turbo, without tuning.

Aquila and Clustered report that all these efficiencies pay off in terms of ROI and TCO.

The TCO for a typical datacenter runs about $5-$10 million dollars per megawatt. With a fully liquid-cooled system, the figure reduces to around $3 million or less per megawatt, according to Hughes, owing to the reduction in infrastructure equipment and space requirements as well as energy savings.

“The rack may be more expensive on a per rack basis, but because of our density and the fact that our cooling efficiency will cut the power bill drastically, close to 50 percent, you recover the cost of the equipment well within the first year’s operation of your datacenter,” Bolz added.

Aquila and Clustered provided this diagram to illustrate the TCO equation.

aquila-clustered-annual-amortization-per-server-comparison

Annual ammortization comparison

 

The solution is capable of cooling over 100 kilowatts per rack. Stuffed to capacity with 108 Xeon dual-socket E5 v4 servers, the load is about 50 kilowatts, but the cold plates themselves are capable enough to handle that higher figure, Hughes asserted. “No boards right now are going to put out that type of power, but we are ready for it when it comes,” he said.

Aquila is an employee-owned small business, located in New Mexico, that started out in HPC. “We were the original Intel rep in the area – and at the time microprocessors were just starting to get going in the 70s and 80s,” Bolz shared. “We called in advanced computing at that point.”

The company moved into manufacturing, and had a long stretch filling specialized products for the Department of Defense and Department of Energy. They are still manufacturing high-end radiation detection equipment for tracking radiological materials with the potential to be used by bad actors.

Development on Aquarius began in 2015 when Aquila and Clustered Systems responded to the Trilab CTS-1 procurement, which was ultimately awarded to Penguin Computing.

“We have a long manufacturing story – we are very entrepreneurial – we got a call from Clustered when the CTS-1 proposal came up, and we put a competitive bid. We believe we came in second to Penguin; based on our quote, we believe by a couple million dollars. They encouraged us to move forward with designing the product and finishing off to a  production model – at that point Aquila struck an agreement with Clustered,” said Bolz.

Given how they started out their partnership and their ties to the New Mexico labs (Los Alamos and Sandia), it makes sense that the the companies will be focusing their go-to-market strategy on government HPC, but they are also looking toward hyperscale market opportunities.

“The HPC community is quick to adopt new things, anything that will make for more reliability and high performance,” Bolz observed. “I think because of the scale involved in HPC, they are willing to take more risk than you would see in other markets. However we’re beginning to see the hyperscale, hyperconverged datacenters as a good market for this as well.

“If we send them an open rack with servers in it they don’t have a problem with that—they are used to very open type equipment, so we don’t see that as a problem. But for the high-performance computing folks of course we’re going to have sides and doors on our racks too to because what they are used to seeing has more of a finished feel to it – so the good part is we are suitable for both of those markets.”

Exascale also factors prominently into Aquila and Clustered System’s vision. The partners design goal was to reduce the cost of cooling server resources to under 5 percent of overall datacenter usage.

“As we move from a four teraflops board to an eight or a ten teraflops board, even if they double the heat on it,” said Bolz, “I think we’ll have the economics from both the reliability standpoint and power economy standpoint to make exascale a lot more palatable. That’s really where we see the next generation of systems that we’ll come out with looking out five years.”

Aquila is taking orders now and production systems will begin shipping this quarter. You can check out the Aquarius platform in person at SC16 in Salt Lake City, Utah, in November.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industry updates delivered to you every week!

Natcast/NSTC Issues Roadmap to Implement CHIPS and Science Act

May 29, 2024

Yesterday, CHIPS for America and Natcast, the operator of the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), released a roadmap of early steps for implementing portions of the ambitious $5 billion program. Natcast is t Read more…

Scientists Use GenAI to Uncover New Insights in Materials Science

May 29, 2024

With the help of generative AI, researchers from MIT and the University of Basel in Switzerland have developed a new machine-learning framework that can help uncover new insights about materials science. The findings of Read more…

Microsoft’s ARM-based CPU Cobalt will Support Windows 11 in the Cloud

May 29, 2024

Microsoft's ARM-based CPU, called Cobalt, is now available in the cloud for public consumption. Cobalt is Microsoft's first homegrown CPU, which was first announced six months ago. The cloud-based Cobalt VMs will support Read more…

2024 Winter Classic Finale! Gala Awards Ceremony

May 28, 2024

We wrapped up the competition with our traditional Gala Awards Ceremony. This was an exciting show, given that only 40 points or so separated first place from fifth place after the Google GROMACS Challenge and heading in Read more…

IBM Makes a Push Towards Open-Source Services, Announces New watsonx Updates

May 28, 2024

Today, IBM declared that it is releasing a number of noteworthy changes to its watsonx platform, with the goal of increasing the openness, affordability, and flexibility of the platform’s AI capabilities. Announced Read more…

ISC 2024 Takeaways: Love for Top500, Extending HPC Systems, and Media Bashing

May 23, 2024

The ISC High Performance show is typically about time-to-science, but breakout sessions also focused on Europe's tech sovereignty, server infrastructure, storage, throughput, and new computing technologies. This round Read more…

Scientists Use GenAI to Uncover New Insights in Materials Science

May 29, 2024

With the help of generative AI, researchers from MIT and the University of Basel in Switzerland have developed a new machine-learning framework that can help un Read more…

watsonx

IBM Makes a Push Towards Open-Source Services, Announces New watsonx Updates

May 28, 2024

Today, IBM declared that it is releasing a number of noteworthy changes to its watsonx platform, with the goal of increasing the openness, affordability, and fl Read more…

ISC 2024 Takeaways: Love for Top500, Extending HPC Systems, and Media Bashing

May 23, 2024

The ISC High Performance show is typically about time-to-science, but breakout sessions also focused on Europe's tech sovereignty, server infrastructure, storag Read more…

ISC 2024 — A Few Quantum Gems and Slides from a Packed QC Agenda

May 22, 2024

If you were looking for quantum computing content, ISC 2024 was a good place to be last week — there were around 20 quantum computing related sessions. QC eve Read more…

Atos Outlines Plans to Get Acquired, and a Path Forward

May 21, 2024

Atos – via its subsidiary Eviden – is the second major supercomputer maker outside of HPE, while others have largely dropped out. The lack of integrators and Atos' financial turmoil have the HPC market worried. If Atos goes under, HPE will be the only major option for building large-scale systems. Read more…

Google Announces Sixth-generation AI Chip, a TPU Called Trillium

May 17, 2024

On Tuesday May 14th, Google announced its sixth-generation TPU (tensor processing unit) called Trillium.  The chip, essentially a TPU v6, is the company's l Read more…

Europe’s Race towards Quantum-HPC Integration and Quantum Advantage

May 16, 2024

What an interesting panel, Quantum Advantage — Where are We and What is Needed? While the panelists looked slightly weary — their’s was, after all, one of Read more…

The Future of AI in Science

May 15, 2024

AI is one of the most transformative and valuable scientific tools ever developed. By harnessing vast amounts of data and computational power, AI systems can un Read more…

Synopsys Eats Ansys: Does HPC Get Indigestion?

February 8, 2024

Recently, it was announced that Synopsys is buying HPC tool developer Ansys. Started in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1970 as Swanson Analysis Systems, Inc. (SASI) by John Swanson (and eventually renamed), Ansys serves the CAE (Computer Aided Engineering)/multiphysics engineering simulation market. Read more…

Nvidia H100: Are 550,000 GPUs Enough for This Year?

August 17, 2023

The GPU Squeeze continues to place a premium on Nvidia H100 GPUs. In a recent Financial Times article, Nvidia reports that it expects to ship 550,000 of its lat Read more…

Comparing NVIDIA A100 and NVIDIA L40S: Which GPU is Ideal for AI and Graphics-Intensive Workloads?

October 30, 2023

With long lead times for the NVIDIA H100 and A100 GPUs, many organizations are looking at the new NVIDIA L40S GPU, which it’s a new GPU optimized for AI and g Read more…

Atos Outlines Plans to Get Acquired, and a Path Forward

May 21, 2024

Atos – via its subsidiary Eviden – is the second major supercomputer maker outside of HPE, while others have largely dropped out. The lack of integrators and Atos' financial turmoil have the HPC market worried. If Atos goes under, HPE will be the only major option for building large-scale systems. Read more…

Choosing the Right GPU for LLM Inference and Training

December 11, 2023

Accelerating the training and inference processes of deep learning models is crucial for unleashing their true potential and NVIDIA GPUs have emerged as a game- Read more…

Nvidia’s New Blackwell GPU Can Train AI Models with Trillions of Parameters

March 18, 2024

Nvidia's latest and fastest GPU, codenamed Blackwell, is here and will underpin the company's AI plans this year. The chip offers performance improvements from Read more…

Some Reasons Why Aurora Didn’t Take First Place in the Top500 List

May 15, 2024

The makers of the Aurora supercomputer, which is housed at the Argonne National Laboratory, gave some reasons why the system didn't make the top spot on the Top Read more…

AMD MI3000A

How AMD May Get Across the CUDA Moat

October 5, 2023

When discussing GenAI, the term "GPU" almost always enters the conversation and the topic often moves toward performance and access. Interestingly, the word "GPU" is assumed to mean "Nvidia" products. (As an aside, the popular Nvidia hardware used in GenAI are not technically... Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

The GenAI Datacenter Squeeze Is Here

February 1, 2024

The immediate effect of the GenAI GPU Squeeze was to reduce availability, either direct purchase or cloud access, increase cost, and push demand through the roof. A secondary issue has been developing over the last several years. Even though your organization secured several racks... Read more…

The NASA Black Hole Plunge

May 7, 2024

We have all thought about it. No one has done it, but now, thanks to HPC, we see what it looks like. Hold on to your feet because NASA has released videos of wh Read more…

Shutterstock 1285747942

AMD’s Horsepower-packed MI300X GPU Beats Nvidia’s Upcoming H200

December 7, 2023

AMD and Nvidia are locked in an AI performance battle – much like the gaming GPU performance clash the companies have waged for decades. AMD has claimed it Read more…

Intel Plans Falcon Shores 2 GPU Supercomputing Chip for 2026  

August 8, 2023

Intel is planning to onboard a new version of the Falcon Shores chip in 2026, which is code-named Falcon Shores 2. The new product was announced by CEO Pat Gel Read more…

GenAI Having Major Impact on Data Culture, Survey Says

February 21, 2024

While 2023 was the year of GenAI, the adoption rates for GenAI did not match expectations. Most organizations are continuing to invest in GenAI but are yet to Read more…

Eyes on the Quantum Prize – D-Wave Says its Time is Now

January 30, 2024

Early quantum computing pioneer D-Wave again asserted – that at least for D-Wave – the commercial quantum era has begun. Speaking at its first in-person Ana Read more…

Q&A with Nvidia’s Chief of DGX Systems on the DGX-GB200 Rack-scale System

March 27, 2024

Pictures of Nvidia's new flagship mega-server, the DGX GB200, on the GTC show floor got favorable reactions on social media for the sheer amount of computing po Read more…

How the Chip Industry is Helping a Battery Company

May 8, 2024

Chip companies, once seen as engineering pure plays, are now at the center of geopolitical intrigue. Chip manufacturing firms, especially TSMC and Intel, have b Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire