From Deep Blue, the computer that defeated Garry Kasparov in a 1997 chess match, to the new Blue Gene® line of high-performance computers created by IBM, a single color has traditionally been associated with advanced computing.
With the recent opening of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, however, high-performance computing has taken on a different hue: green. Several innovative steps designed to maximize the efficiency of Argonne's new Blue Gene/P high-performance computer have saved many taxpayer dollars while reducing the laboratory's environmental footprint.
While similar computing centers at other laboratories and institutions often require several megawatts of electricity – enough to meet the energy demands a small town – the ALCF needs only a little more than one megawatt of power. "Because the ALCF can effectively meet the demands of this world-class computer, the laboratory ends up saving taxpayers more than a million dollars a year," said Paul Messina, director of science at the ALCF.
The Blue Gene/P currently runs at a speed of more than 557 teraflops, which means that it can complete more than 557 trillion calculations per second. While several high-performance computing facilities recently established or upgraded at some of Argonne's sister laboratories have surpassed that mark, only one exceeds the efficiency of Argonne's Blue Gene/P. "The Blue Gene/P uses about a third as much electricity as a machine of comparable size built with more conventional parts," Messina said.
While a megawatt of electricity might seem like a lot of power, the massive number of computations that the Blue Gene/P can do puts it in perspective. Energy efficiency of high-performance computers is measured in flops per watt – how many calculations per second the computer can do for every watt of electricity it uses.
According to the November 2008 Green500 ranking of supercomputers, the Blue Gene/P's energy efficiency averages out to more than 350 million calculations a second per watt. By contrast, a common household light bulb frequently uses between 50 and 100 watts of electricity. Among the top 20 supercomputers in the world, the Blue Gene/P is the second-most energy-efficient. "The fact that we are running such a powerful computer so efficiently shows that we can simultaneously respond to the demands of the advanced simulation and modeling community and the environmental concerns of today's society," Messina said.
Much of the electricity that the Blue Gene/P requires is used not to actually process the computations, but rather to cool the machinery. Without any cooling at all, the room that houses the computer would reach 100 degrees within ten minutes after the computers started running.
To keep the facility cool and safe, six air handlers move 300,000 cubic feet of air per minute under the floor, keeping the room chilled to 64 degrees Fahrenheit. These air handlers, according to Messina, cool more cost-effectively than large air conditioners used at other facilities. "Many other high-performance computing centers require as much electricity to cool their computers as they do to operate them, but here at Argonne we need only an additional 60 percent," he said. "We not only have a green computer, we have an entire green facility."
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America 's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.
Eleanor Taylor | Newswise Science News
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences