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IBM Supercomputer Uses 40% Less Energy, Set to Save $1.25m Annually

IBM has collaborated with the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) in Garching, Germany to develop a hot-water cooled supercomputer (pictured) that consumes 40 percent less energy than a comparable air-cooled machine and is 10 times more compact.

This year state-funded institutions across Germany are required to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from sustainable sources. The SuperMUC supercomputer is deployed at LRZ, the computer center for Munich’s universities and for the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and will help the center meet this goal.

Additionally, IBM systems management software will allow LRZ to capture energy and reuse it to heat the campus’ buildings during the winter, saving LRZ about €1 million ($1.25 million) per year, IBM says.

Developers built the system 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.

According to IBM, up to 50 percent of an average air-cooled data center’s energy consumption and carbon footprint is not caused by computing, but by powering the necessary cooling systems. To address this, IBM scientists and developers invented a new form 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.

The SuperMUC system is Europe’s fastest computer, and ranks no. 4 worldwide, according to the TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

LRZ says the supercomputer will 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 science of earthquakes. The SuperMUC system is also connected to powerful visualization systems, including a large 4K stereoscopic power wall and a five-sided immersive artificial virtual-reality environment, for visualizing 3D data sets from fields including Earth science, astronomy and medicine.

Earlier this month, IBM announced that a golf and residential community in Arizona is using its analytics software to reduce its water use by 10 percent and generate an additional 10 percent savings in energy costs related to water pumping and distribution. IBM has also partnered with CUNY Ventures, a City University of New York Economic Development Corporation entity, to develop an intelligent operations platform that will help the city analyze and understand key market indicators that can make solar power development more cost competitive.

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