All that, and a room to put it in

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The Register’s Timothy Prickett Morgan has a story up this week on the efforts going into designing the datacenter meant to house NCSA’s Blue Waters machine

IBM logoA month ago, IBM and the University of Illinois broke ground for the data center that will eventually house the Power7-based “Blue Waters” massively parallel supercomputer. The data center, it turns out, is as tricky to design as the processor and server that will be humming along inside it.

There is a lot of engineering going into this to make the facility as much of an accomplishment as the machine it will house. For example, they’ll pull in outside when it’s cold, won’t use room level air conditioning, and will use 60 degree (F) water to cool the boxes. It will also be pushing 480 volt power right into the servers to eliminate some of the transformer and line loss.

Seminaro says that IBM is estimating that the data center will have about 98 per cent power distribution efficiency and that depending on the time of the year, the cooling infrastructure will run at between 80 and 93 per cent efficiency. (In cooler weather, it will be more efficient thanks to the air economizers).

IBM expects the overall efficiency of the data center housing Blue Waters to be around 85 percent. So to power up a 300-watt device in this data center will only take about 350 watts of input power. That’s a very big improvement [compared to the 800 Seminaro calculates it takes in the typical datacenter].