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Supercomputing Seeks Energy Savings

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New energy-saving technology from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has established a standard for resource-responsible high-performance computing (HPC) research. ORNL runs the Jaguar, a Cray XT supercomputer with a maximum speed of 1.6 petaflops. "We take energy utilization very seriously," says ORNL's Buddy Bland. "The scale of this machine is just phenomenal."

The support systems and the machine itself were designed to be exceptionally efficient. The efficiency effort is incorporated into the building that houses the Jaguar. For example, the computer room is sealed off from the rest of the building by a vapor barrier to reduce the infiltration of humidity, and the room's air pressure is slightly higher than the surrounding area so air will flow out of the computer room without air flowing in.

A new cooling system, called ECOphlex, uses a common refrigerant and a series of heat exchangers to efficiently remove heat generated by Jaguar to keep the computer room cool. The combination of air and refrigerant cooling systems is far more efficient than traditional systems, which often rely solely on air.

Instead of using the more common 208-volt power supply the system initially used, the system now runs directly on 480-volt power, which saves ORNL $1 million in the cost of copper used in the power cords, and using a higher voltage allows for a lower current, which means a lower resistance. As a result, less power is converted into heat, which could reduce energy costs by as much as $500,000.

From HPC Wire
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