By Gary Thomas
The Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) in partnership with IBM has developed the world's first commercial hot-water cooled supercomputer, which is a robust, high-performance system designed exclusively to assist industrial institutions and researchers meet the most intimidating challenges of the scientific world.
The LRZ’s SuperMUC system was designed with IBM System x iDataPlex Direct Water Cooled dx360 M4 servers with over 150,000 cores to deliver top performance of up to three petaflops. In simple terms, it just means that the SuperMUC is capable of doing the work of more than 110,000 personal computers. The IBM-created hot-water cooling technology has been integrated with the system to enable it to be built 10 times more compact, and to greatly improve its performance while reducing 40% of the energy consumed when compared to an air-cooled machine.
Today, energy consumption and carbon footprint caused by air-cooled data center is not due to computing operations, but due to the energy required for powering the cooling systems. Hence the scientists at IBM decided to do away the conventional data center air cooling systems and use the innovative hot-water cooling technology. The hot-water cooling technology is designed to instantly cool active components such as processors and memory modules in the system with coolant temperatures reaching nearly 113o F. This technology along with IBM’s application-oriented, dynamic systems management software utilizes the energy saved to heat the vast building space of LRZ saving it one million Euros annually.
The SuperMUC system can be used in numerous research fields including understanding of earthquakes, simulating the flow of blood behind an artificial heart valve, discovering insights in geophysics, and devising airplanes that are quieter. The SuperMUC system can also be integrated with robust visualization systems such as a large 4K stereoscopic power wall and a five-sided immersive artificial virtual-reality environment or CAVE to visualize 3D data sets from astronomy, Earth science, medicine etc.
Dr. Bruno Michel, Manager of the Advanced Thermal Packaging at IBM Research asserts that as IBM strives towards achieving a zero emission data center one day, it will also be able to accomplish a million fold reduction in the size of the SuperMUC, meaning that the size of the SuperMUC can be minimized to the size of a desktop computer but with higher levels of efficiency.
The SuperMUC system has been chosen as the fastest supercomputer in Europe by the TOP500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers. The inauguration of the SuperMUC system will be in July 2012 at LRZ in Garching, Germany.