Even high-performance computing is seeking energy efficiency

Misting could be a common way to cool chips one day

High-performance computing centers are the Indy cars of the technology industry: built for speed and little else. Let the other guys build the Corollas and Civics for economy.

Today, however, even some HPC systems are looking for ways to control energy use.

"Our appetite for additional compute cycles is pretty much insatiable. But we do look at power and cooling," says Tommy Minyard, assistant director of advanced computing systems at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas in the US.

TACC is building a Sun supercomputer expected to deliver 400 teraflops of processing power from 13,000 Advanced Micro Devices quad-core processors. Power and cooling issues remain secondary to performance, but are becoming more important as faster processors and smaller-form-factor blade servers increase heating density, Minyard says. "The standard, old, conventional under-floor cooling with central air-conditioning units just aren't adequate for the heating densities we're seeing down the road here," he says.

The Sun servers TACC is deploying will consume about 30 kilowatts of power per rack, vs. the 12 kW consumption of a typical server rack. "That's extremely high. You've got all that heat in a small space, and you have to cool it," Minyard says.

TACC also is deploying in-row cooling units to control server temperatures better, but Minyard is intrigued by other possibilities, including spraying a fine mist of droplets right in front of the chip. "If you can move the cooling directly to the chip, that is much more efficient than trying to cool the air," he says.

No doubt the lessons TACC and other HPC centers learn will one day come in handy for conventional data centers as they continue to grow in size and complexity, Minyard says.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert Mullins

Network World

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?