An energy crisis in HPC
The Dell-powered Hyperion cluster at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory aims to be first non-proprietary petascale supercomputer.
Green computing is becoming important for HPC, not only for reasons of energy conservation and cost reduction, but also because data centres are reaching the limits of power available to them. Paul Schreier examines steps being taken to cut HPC power requirements
HPC Projects: December 2008/January 2009
In our report on the grid computing facilities at CERN , we noted that computational tasks are being farmed out to scientists around the world, not only because it gives these experts immediate access to never-before-seen data, but also because the CERN computers have reached the point where a new power-generating facility would soon have to be built for any further server expansion. A major limiting factor has become cooling capability. HPC suppliers universally agree that this is no unique situation, and many data centres are running into this problem. Purchasing ‘green’ energy-efficient computers isn’t just a matter of protecting the environment or cutting energy bills; in some cases, it’s a necessity just to get the amount of computing power you need for your scientific research projects in the available space and in the available power budget.
HPC suppliers are addressing this problem on a number of fronts: at the chip level, at the blade/box level, in computing infrastructure, and with software. HPC users must consider the entire ecosystem ‘from chips to chillers’ when discussing data centre optimisation with their IT managers. Power has only recently started to become such an issue. In the ‘old’ days of HPC, just a few years ago, the first two questions that vendors heard related to performance and cost, relates Ed Turkel, product marketing manager for scalable computing and infrastructure at HP. Now, the dialogue is different: for users, power, size and cooling are just as... [continues]
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