IBM Hot-Water-Cooled Supercomputer Is Europe's Fastest

IBM announced a new hot-water-cooled supercomputer known as the SuperMUC, which has been billed as Europe's fastest supercomputer.

In addition to nabbing the world€™s fastest supercomputer title, IBM also can boast producing the first commercial hot-water-cooled supercomputer.

IBM announced June 18 that the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ), in collaboration with Big Blue has delivered what the company claims is the world's first commercially available hot-water-cooled supercomputer. The new high-performance system is designed to help researchers and industrial institutions across Europe investigate and solve some of the world's most daunting scientific challenges, IBM said in a press release about the new machine.

IBM also announced June 18 that an IBM supercomputer has been ranked as the world€™s fastest, according to the Top500 list of the world€™s fastest supercomputers. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) along with IBM announced that a supercomputer called Sequoia at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) was ranked the world€™s most powerful computing system. This is the first time since 2009 that a U.S.-built supercomputer has taken the top spot on the Top500 list.

Meanwhile, the new LRZ "SuperMUC" system was built with IBM System x iDataPlex Direct Water Cooled dx360 M4 servers with more than 150,000 cores to provide a peak performance of up to three petaflops, which is equivalent to the work of more than 110,000 personal computers. To further illustrate the point, IBM said 3 billion people using a pocket calculator would have to perform 1 million operations per second each to achieve performance equivalent to the SuperMUC. The €œMUC€ in the SuperMUC name is borrowed from the airport code for nearby Munich.

IBM also announced that its €œrevolutionary€ new form of hot-water-cooling technology enables the system to be built 10 times more compact and substantially improve its peak performance while consuming 40 percent less energy than a comparable air-cooled machine.

€œThis year, all the electricity consumed by state-funded institutions across Germany are required to purchase 100 percent sustainable energy," Professor Arndt Bode, chairman of the board of the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre, said in a statement. "SuperMUC will help us keep our commitment, while giving the scientific community a best-in-class system to test theories, design experiments and predict outcomes as never before.€

IBM estimates that up to 50 percent of an average air-cooled data center's energy consumption and carbon footprint today is not caused by computing, but by powering the necessary cooling systems. IBM scientists and developers chose to address this challenge with an innovative concept of hot-water cooling, which eliminates the need for conventional data center air cooling systems. IBM's hot-water-cooling technology directly cools active components in the system such as processors and memory modules with coolant temperatures that can reach as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit, or 45 degrees Celsius.

"As we continue to deliver on our long-term vision of a zero-emission data center, we may eventually achieve a millionfold reduction in the size of SuperMUC, so that it can be reduced to the size of a desktop computer with a much higher efficiency than today," said Bruno Michel, manager of Advanced Thermal Packaging at IBM Research.
SuperMUC combines its hot-water-cooling capability, which removes heat 4,000 times more efficiently than air, with 18,000 energy-efficient Intel Xeon processors. In addition to helping with scientific discovery, the integration of hot-water cooling and IBM application-oriented, dynamic systems management software, allows energy to be captured and reused to heat the buildings during the winter on the sprawling Leibniz Supercomputing Centre campus, for savings of 1 million euros, or about $1.25 million per year.

Though it is not the world€™s fastest supercomputer, the SuperMUC system is Europe's fastest computer, according to the TOP500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers. This performance will be used to drive a wide spectrum of research€”from simulating the blood flow behind an artificial heart valve, to devising quieter airplanes to unearthing new insights in geophysics, including the understanding of earthquakes. The SuperMUC system is also connected to powerful visualization systems, including a large 4K stereoscopic power wall and a five-sided immersive cave artificial virtual-reality environment or CAVE for visualizing 3D data sets from fields, including earth science, astronomy and medicine.

The LRZ is the computer center for Munich's universities and for the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities. It takes care of the scientific data network in Munich, offers a variety of data services, and provides high-end computing facilities for the scientific community across Europe.

The center's new SuperMUC system is the largest in Europe and one of the most powerful systems in the world. It is part of the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) high-performance computing infrastructure for researchers and industrial institutions throughout Europe. The supercomputer is jointly funded by the German federal government and the state of Bavaria. It will be officially inaugurated in July 2012 at Leibniz Supercomputing Centre in Garching, Germany.