UK Met Office Shooting for DC Direct Supers

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The UK Met Office is planning to upgrade its supercomputing systems in the next 18 months.  They’ve also announced that they will be focusing not only on the computational capability, but the energy efficiency of the new machine.  One of the techniques the Met Office is focusing on is DC direct power for the supercomputing floor.  Currently, they take power in from the grid as AC, push it through a series of UPS systems as DC, rectify it, then push it back out as AC.  Once the machines receive the power as AC, they will most likely internally convert it back to DC.  Each time the power is converted between AC and DC, the overall efficiency drops.  The Met Office is suggesting that vendors propose systems that can directly ingest DC power out of the UPS units.

We are asking suppliers if there is any way we can reduce all that power loss so that we can just take DC out of the UPS [Uninterruptible Power Supply] and straight into the machines. We reckon we could save about 5 percent of our power use just by doing that and taking out those losses,” [IT Chief Steve Foreman] said.

They’re also heading down the road of turning up the thermostats on the computer floors.  By moving out the temperature sensitive systems [such as tape silos], they can turn up the ambient temperature a few degrees in order to save money on the cooling costs.

Our supercomputers use something like 40 to 50 percent of our entire electricity usage in the organisation at the moment – that is about to go up to 80 percent,” [Foreman] admitted. “Its going up because in order to provide more accurate weather information we need more computing power. We are getting more calculations per watt but the demand for calculations far exceeds the rate at which the suppliers are able to reduce the power power consumption.”

For more info, read the full article at eWeek EU here.


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