Keeping Big Data Cool at SDSC

June 29, 2016

June 29 — When most people think of a supercomputer center, they may think of one massive computer performing a single task. Inside the data center at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California San Diego, however, there are several large supercomputer systems, each performing multiple tasks simultaneously across a wide range of science domains that include genome sequencing to help pave the way to personalized medical treatment, coming up with new drug designs for conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, or creating detailed fluid dynamics simulations for hypersonic aircraft.

Keeping SDSC’s main data center cool enough so that its Comet and Gordon supercomputers, among smaller clusters, don’t overheat is a complex yet mission-critical task, according to Todor Milkov, SDSC’s senior project engineer. A computing architecture such as the one found in Comet, SDSC’s newest supercomputer, requires one megawatt of power to operate the system. Using that much electricity generates a tremendous amount of heat, so SDSC, with the help of outside experts, developed three cooling system prototypes and conducted research to determine the most efficient system.

Each prototype system was designed using vendor-specific technology controlling five air handlers as a baseline to evaluate system performance. One of the prototypes used wireless temperature sensors that read the temperature of the hot and cold aisles every three minutes to increase battery life.

SDSC Datacenter AisleMany data centers use a standard hot aisle/cold aisle design. This design involves lining up server racks in alternating rows, with cold air intakes facing one way and hot air exhausts facing the other. The rows composed of rack fronts are called cold aisles. Typically, cold aisles face air conditioner output ducts. The rows that the heated exhausts pour into are called hot aisles. Typically, hot aisles face air conditioner return ducts.

Containment systems can help isolate hot aisles and cold aisles from each other and prevent hot and cold air from mixing. Such systems started out as using physical barriers that simply separated the hot and cold aisles with vinyl plastic sheeting or Plexiglas covers. Modern containment systems offer plenums and other commercial options that combine containment with variable fan drives (VFDs) to prevent cold air and hot air from mixing.

At SDSC, however, the entire area under the raised floor is used for the supply plenum, and the entire area above the ceiling is for the return plenum. Cold aisles use perforated floor tiles with specifically designed hole sizes to control the air flow volume from the space below the floor, while the hot aisles use ceiling grates that allow heated air to enter the space above the ceiling.

Controlling the air flow from all air handlers discharging into one common plenum presents a difficult problem, especially since these spaces also contain obstructions such as pipes and conduits. Moreover, not all of the compute clusters run at full capacity at any given time, and systems loads also change regularly as research projects start up or stop. These constantly changing factors cause the amount of heat dissipated from the supercomputer systems to fluctuate from minute to minute. The data center cooling system has to quickly adjust to accommodate these fluctuations in temperature.

“We learned a lot during the prototype and research phase of the cooling system design,” said Milkov. “We started by collecting a lot of data on how air flowed through the data center. We found that three minutes between temperature readings was too long an interval to keep the data center within the desired temperature ranges. Because of the longer interval, we used more electricity bringing the data center back to its temperature set points than we needed if we took temperature readings over shorter intervals and could make changes to the cooling system sooner.”

Realizing that a different approach was needed, Milkov put together a vendor evaluation process for an updated data center management system with the objective of reducing energy use while increasing the level of control capability available to the SDSC operations staff.

After extensive research, Milkov selected three companies for prototype installations. At the conclusion of a detailed evaluation, systems integration company Earth Base One (EBO) Corporation and a SNAP PAC-based control system were chosen for providing extensive control capabilities and energy savings.

Milkov and Michael Hyde, EBO’s president, approached the project with the same vision. “Rather than adapting an off-the-shelf data center management system to SDSC, we designed a tailor-built system for SDSC’s unique challenges,” said Hyde.

Opto 22, which develops and manufactures hardware and software products for applications in industrial automation, remote monitoring, and data acquisition, was chosen as the primary controls manufacturer. “The Opto 22 hardware and software not only won the competition for control and energy savings, but was also the least expensive vendor solution,” said Hyde. “The software’s excellent historical data collection and trending abilities allowed SDSC engineers to continue improving the system based on real data.”

“We appreciated the outstanding technical support SDSC received from Opto 22 during our design and prototype phase,” said Milkov. “When you’re trying to protect millions of dollars’ worth of research, you need a control system you can rely on.”

The full case study is available here.

About SDSC

As an Organized Research Unit of UC San Diego, SDSC is considered a leader in data-intensive computing and cyberinfrastructure, providing resources, services, and expertise to the national research community, including industry and academia. Cyberinfrastructure refers to an accessible, integrated network of computer-based resources and expertise, focused on accelerating scientific inquiry and discovery. SDSC supports hundreds of multidisciplinary programs spanning a wide variety of domains, from earth sciences and biology to astrophysics, bioinformatics, and health IT. SDSC’s Comet joins the Center’s data-intensive Gordon cluster, and are both part of the National Science Foundation’s XSEDE (eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment) program, the most advanced collection of integrated digital resources and services in the world.

About Opto 22

Opto 22 develops and manufactures hardware and software products for applications in industrial automation, remote monitoring, and data acquisition. Using standard, commercially available Internet, networking, and computer technologies, Opto 22’s input/output and control systems allow customers to monitor, control, and acquire data from all of the mechanical, electrical, and electronic assets that are key to their business operations. More information is at www.opto22.com.


Source: SDSC

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

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

Microsoft Wants to Speed Quantum Development

December 12, 2017

Quantum computing continues to make headlines in what remains of 2017 as tech giants jockey to establish a pole position in the race toward commercialization of quantum. This week, Microsoft took the next step in advanci Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ESnet Now Moving More Than 1 Petabyte/wk

December 12, 2017

Optimizing ESnet (Energy Sciences Network), the world's fastest network for science, is an ongoing process. Recently a two-year collaboration by ESnet users – the Petascale DTN Project – achieved its ambitious goal t Read more…

HPC-as-a-Service Finds Toehold in Iceland

December 11, 2017

While high-demand workloads (e.g., bitcoin mining) can overheat data center cooling capabilities, at least one data center infrastructure provider has announced an HPC-as-a-service offering that features 100 percent fre Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Explore the Origins of Space with COSMOS and Memory-Driven Computing

From the formation of black holes to the origins of space, data is the key to unlocking the secrets of the early universe. Read more…

HPC Iron, Soft, Data, People – It Takes an Ecosystem!

December 11, 2017

Cutting edge advanced computing hardware (aka big iron) does not stand by itself. These computers are the pinnacle of a myriad of technologies that must be carefully woven together by people to create the computational c Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Microsoft Wants to Speed Quantum Development

December 12, 2017

Quantum computing continues to make headlines in what remains of 2017 as tech giants jockey to establish a pole position in the race toward commercialization of Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Iron, Soft, Data, People – It Takes an Ecosystem!

December 11, 2017

Cutting edge advanced computing hardware (aka big iron) does not stand by itself. These computers are the pinnacle of a myriad of technologies that must be care Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft Spins Cycle Computing into Core Azure Product

December 5, 2017

Last August, cloud giant Microsoft acquired HPC cloud orchestration pioneer Cycle Computing. Since then the focus has been on integrating Cycle’s organization Read more…

By John Russell

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE In-Memory Platform Comes to COSMOS

November 30, 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is on a mission to accelerate space research. In August, it sent the first commercial-off-the-shelf HPC system into space for testing Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC17 Cluster Competition: Who Won and Why? Results Analyzed and Over-Analyzed

November 28, 2017

Everyone by now knows that Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU) took home the highest LINPACK Award and the Overall Championship from the recently concluded SC17 Student Cluster Competition. We also already know how the teams did in the Highest LINPACK and Highest HPCG competitions, with Nanyang grabbing bragging rights for both benchmarks. Read more…

By Dan Olds

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Software Tools to Ease FPGA Programming

September 5, 2017

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have a reputation for being difficult to program, requiring expertise in specialty languages, like Verilog or VHDL. Easin Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This