First commercial hot-water-cooled supercomputer to consume 40% less energy

Jun 18, 2012

The Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ), in collaboration with IBM, today announced the world's first commercially available hot-water-cooled supercomputer, a powerful, high-performance system designed to help researchers and industrial institutions across Europe investigate and solve some of the world's most daunting scientific challenges.

The new LRZ "SuperMUC" system was built with IBM iDataPlex Direct Water Cooled dx360 M4 with more than 150,000 cores to provide a of up to three , which is equivalent to the work of more than 110,000 personal computers. Put another way, three billion people using a pocket calculator would have to perform one million operations per second each to reach equivalent SuperMUC performance. Also, a revolutionary new form of hot-water invented by IBM allows the system to be built 10 times more compact and substantially improve its peak performance while consuming 40 percent less energy than a comparable air-cooled machine.

“This year all the electricity consumed by state-funded institutions across Germany are required to purchase 100% sustainable energy," said Prof. Dr. Arndt Bode, Chairman of the Board, Leibniz Supercomputing Centre. "SuperMUC will help us keep our commitment, while giving the scientific community a best-in-class system to test theories, design experiments and predict outcomes as never before.”

Pioneering hot-water-cooled technology

Up to 50 percent of an average air-cooled data center's energy consumption and carbon footprint today is not caused by computing, but by powering the necessary cooling systems. IBM scientists and developers chose to address this challenge with an innovative concept of hot-water cooling, which eliminates the need for conventional data center air cooling systems. IBM's hot-water cooling technology directly cools active components in the system such as processors and memory modules with coolant temperatures that can reach as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit, or 45 degrees Celsius.

"As we continue to deliver on our long-term vision of a zero-emission data center, we may eventually achieve a millionfold reduction in the size of SuperMUC, so that it can be reduced to the size of a desktop computer with much higher efficiency than today," said Dr. Bruno Michel, manager, Advanced Thermal Packaging, IBM Research.

SuperMUC combines its hot-water cooling capability, which removes heat 4,000 times more efficiently than air, with 18,000 energy-efficient Intel Xeon processors. In addition to helping with scientific discovery, the integration of hot-water cooling and IBM application-oriented, dynamic systems management software allows energy to be captured and reused to heat the buildings on the sprawling Leibniz Supercomputing Centre campus in the winter at savings of one million euros ($1.25 million USD) per year.

The SuperMUC system is Europe's fastest computer, according the TOP500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers announced today. This performance will be used to drive a wide spectrum of research—from simulating the blood flow behind an artificial heart valve, to devising quieter airplanes, to unearthing new insights in geophysics, including the understanding of earthquakes. The SuperMUC system is also connected to powerful visualization systems, including a large 4K stereoscopic power wall and a five-sided immersive artificial virtual-reality environment or CAVE for visualizing 3D data sets from fields, including earth science, astronomy and medicine.

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User comments : 7

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El_Nose
not rated yet Jun 18, 2012
where ever you put the metal rods that will radiate the heat from the water will be a sauna -- the energy released from that will be immense... why not feed it back as warm water to wash your hands.
Eikka
not rated yet Jun 18, 2012
where ever you put the metal rods that will radiate the heat from the water will be a sauna


45 degrees is a bit cool for a sauna. It's actually too cool to be used in heating hot water which is supposed to be over 55 degrees, but it's just perfect for central heating of a large building.
Noumenon
1.2 / 5 (18) Jun 18, 2012
Because they would have to hire a lot of people just to wash their hands to dissipate that much heat. :)

They will likely simply redirect the heated water to a cooling_tower located outside,... which trickles the used heated water down over radiator fins which have a fan blowing over them to cool back to ambient temperature to be recycled back through the system once more.
El_Nose
not rated yet Jun 18, 2012
@eikka

I work in an office building -- and 'green' office building tend to use cooler hot water to save on energy consumption. And trust me 45C water is A LOT warmer than what we get here. There is no hot and cold knobs -- you put your hand under the faucet and It comes on -- warmer than cold water -- but not hot enough to ever get sued.

@Noumenon

True -- but it could be one use
Noumenon
1 / 5 (16) Jun 18, 2012
@eikka

I work in an office building -- and 'green' office building tend to use cooler hot water to save on energy consumption. And trust me 45C water is A LOT warmer than what we get here. There is no hot and cold knobs -- you put your hand under the faucet and It comes on -- warmer than cold water -- but not hot enough to ever get sued.

@Noumenon

True -- but it could be one use


Realize though that such recycled water would have to be chemically treated for such use, beyond what is already necessary.
IronhorseA
not rated yet Jun 18, 2012
"the SuperMUC system is also connected to powerful visualization systems, including a large 4K stereoscopic power wall and a five-sided immersive artificial virtual-reality environment or CAVE "

But what kind of frame rates do you get in the latest games? ;P

Sounds like it would be perfect for Civ, though ;P
roldor
not rated yet Jun 19, 2012
Suggestion:
One could put a peltier-element underneath each processor/memory-module, to convert some of the heat directly back to electricity. Then even colder water could better be used. By impedance-matching the temperature of the processors could be exactly controlled, even if the water-temperature varies.

Regards, roldor.de