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!

Dell EMC will Build OzStar – Swinburne’s New Supercomputer to Study Gravity

August 16, 2017

Dell EMC announced yesterday it is building a new supercomputer – the OzStar – for the Swinburne University of Technology (Australia) in support the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav) Read more…

By John Russell

Microsoft Bolsters Azure With Cloud HPC Deal

August 15, 2017

Microsoft has acquired cloud computing software vendor Cycle Computing in a move designed to bring orchestration tools along with high-end computing access capabilities to the cloud. Terms of the acquisition were not Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Ships Supercomputer to Space Station, Final Destination Mars

August 14, 2017

With a manned mission to Mars on the horizon, the demand for space-based supercomputing is at hand. Today HPE and NASA sent the first off-the-shelf HPC system into space aboard the SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft to explore if Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Leveraging Deep Learning for Fraud Detection

Advancements in computing technologies and the expanding use of e-commerce platforms have dramatically increased the risk of fraud for financial services companies and their customers. Read more…

AMD EPYC Video Takes Aim at Intel’s Broadwell

August 14, 2017

Let the benchmarking begin. Last week, AMD posted a YouTube video in which one of its EPYC-based systems outperformed a ‘comparable’ Intel Broadwell-based system on the STREAM benchmark and on a test case running ANS Read more…

By John Russell

Microsoft Bolsters Azure With Cloud HPC Deal

August 15, 2017

Microsoft has acquired cloud computing software vendor Cycle Computing in a move designed to bring orchestration tools along with high-end computing access capa Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Ships Supercomputer to Space Station, Final Destination Mars

August 14, 2017

With a manned mission to Mars on the horizon, the demand for space-based supercomputing is at hand. Today HPE and NASA sent the first off-the-shelf HPC system i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD EPYC Video Takes Aim at Intel’s Broadwell

August 14, 2017

Let the benchmarking begin. Last week, AMD posted a YouTube video in which one of its EPYC-based systems outperformed a ‘comparable’ Intel Broadwell-based s Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Thrives in Cancer Moonshot

August 8, 2017

The U.S. War on Cancer, certainly a worthy cause, is a collection of programs stretching back more than 40 years and abiding under many banners. The latest is t Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Raises the Bar for Distributed Deep Learning

August 8, 2017

IBM is announcing today an enhancement to its PowerAI software platform aimed at facilitating the practical scaling of AI models on today’s fastest GPUs. Scal Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Storage Breakthrough Paves Way for 330TB Tape Cartridges

August 3, 2017

IBM announced yesterday a new record for magnetic tape storage that it says will keep tape storage density on a Moore's law-like path far into the next decade. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Stuffs a Petaflops of Machine Intelligence into 20-Node Rack

August 1, 2017

With its Radeon “Vega” Instinct datacenter GPUs and EPYC “Naples” server chips entering the market this summer, AMD has positioned itself for a two-head Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

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

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Clears Path to 5nm with Silicon Nanosheets

June 5, 2017

Two years since announcing the industry’s first 7nm node test chip, IBM and its research alliance partners GlobalFoundries and Samsung have developed a proces Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

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