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July 25, 2016

Train safety tackled by big data analytics

News: Liquid cooled high performance computer to be used.

By James Nunns

The Institute of Railway Research has chosen a liquid cooled high-performance computer to run railway safety big data risk analysis.

The HPC called PetaGen 1C, immerses Intel server electronics in a non-flammable liquid coolant in order to provide dedicated computing sources for the IRR’s big data risk analysis research programme which is performed in conjunction with RSSB.

The RSSB represents the interests of 70 train operators, rolling stock owners, infrastructure providers and suppliers in the UK. The projects include vehicle and track monitoring, analysis of safety databases, risk identification, and safety operation investigations.

According to Iceotope the liquid cooling allows the portable computer system to operate in virtual silence and deliver up to 7.5kW of computing power using blades housed in a cabinet that taken up less than one square metre of floor space.

One of the benefits of the liquid cooling setup is that air conditioning units or acoustic hoods are not required.

The deployment will support IRR’s computing strategy and allow for the HPC to be located in the same facility as its railway research team.

Dr Coen van Gulijk, Professor in Railway Safety and Risk at the Institute of Railway Research at the University of Huddersfield, said: “Big data analysis has huge potential to improve railway safety, but it requires significant computing resources. With its small footprint, low power consumption and silent liquid cooling, we can locate Iceotope’s computing system alongside the research team in the laboratory, providing a dedicated, highly efficient high-performance resource.”

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Results from early adopters have seen the liquid cooling technology reduce power consumption by 80% compared with air cooling and achieve Power Usage Effectiveness of less than 1.1.

Peter Hopton, founder and technology director at Iceotope, comments: “Big data has created huge opportunities but requires greater processing power which generates a significant amount of heat. Traditional cooling approaches require huge amounts of energy and up to four times more real estate to accommodate air conditioning.”

Iceotope teamed with Intel in 2014 to launch low-energy liquid-cooling systems for supercomputers.

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