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ETH and IBM Working on Next-Gen Water-Cooled Super

ibmThe Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich [ETH] and IBM are planning on building a next-generation water-cooled supercomputer.  The new design, called Aquasar, will directly repurpose excess heat for university buildings.  The initial design is thought to save 30 tons of C02 and reduce overall energy consumption by 40 percent.

Energy is arguably the number one challenge humanity will be facing in the 21st century. We cannot afford any more to design computer systems based on the criterion of computational speed and performance alone,” explains Prof. Dr Poulikakos, ETH Zurich, head of Laboratory of Thermodynamics in Emerging Technologies and lead investigator of this interdisciplinary project. “The new target must be high performance and low net power consumption supercomputers and data centres. This means liquid cooling.”

The design calls for two IBM blade center chassis per rack, with an overall peak performance of around 10Tflops.  Each blade will include a microscale liquid cooler for each processor, as well as feed and return lines capable of being disconnected.  The entire cooling system will remain closed circuit, requiring roughly 10 litres of water, flowing at 30 litres per minute.

Heat is a valuable commodity that we rely on and pay dearly for in our everyday lives. If we capture and transport the waste heat from the active components in a computer system as efficiently as possible, we can reuse it as a resource, thus saving energy and lowering carbon emissions. This project is a significant step towards energy-aware, emission-free computing and data centres,” explains Dr Bruno Michel, manager advanced thermal packaging, IBM’s Zurich Research Laboratory.

The actual computational capability delivered with the machine will be utilized by the Computational Science and Engineering Lab of the Computer Science Department at ETH Zurich.  Initial workloads will include multiscale flow simulations pertaining to nanotechnology.  For more info on the water-cooled goodness, read the full article here.

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