by Anton Shilov
06/18/2012 | 09:16 PM
The Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ), in collaboration with IBM on Monday 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 System x iDataPlex Direct Water Cooled dx360 M4 servers with more than 150 000 cores to provide a peak performance of up to three petaflops, 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 cooling technology invented by IBM allows the system to be built 10 times more compact and substantially improve its peak performance while consuming 40% 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. 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," said Arndt Bode, chairman of the board at Leibniz Supercomputing Centre.
Up to 50% 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° Fahrenheit, or 45° Celsius.
SuperMUC combines its hot-water cooling capability, which removes heat 4000 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 during the Winter on the sprawling Leibniz Supercomputing Centre Campus, for savings of one million Euros ($1.25 million) per year.
The SuperMUC system is Europe's fastest computer, according to 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 devise 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.
The center's new SuperMUC system is the largest in Europe and one of the most powerful systems in the world. The supercomputer is jointly funded by the German federal government and the state of Bavaria. It will be officially inaugurated in July 2012 at Leibniz Supercomputing Centre in Garching, Germany.