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June 19, 2012

IBM unveils hot-water cooled supercomputer

The system uses a new form of IBM’s hot-water cooling technology to consume 40% less energy than air-cooled machine

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM and the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre have unveiled the first commercially available supercomputer which the company said is cooled with hot water rather than air.

The company said the supercomputer has been designed to help industrial institutions across Europe investigate and solve various scientific challenges.

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 capacity of more than 110,000 personal computers, IBM said.

The SuperMUC removes heat 4,000 times more efficiently than air, with 18,000 Intel Xeon processors.

The system comes with a new form of IBM’s hot-water cooling technology that directly cools active components in the system such as processors and memory modules with coolant temperatures that can reach as high as 45 degrees Celsius.

The software also allows energy to be captured and reused to heat the buildings during the Winter on the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre Campus, resulting in savings of nearly $1.25m per year.

Leibniz Supercomputing Centre board chairman Arndt Bode said this year all the electricity consumed by state-funded institutions across Germany are required to purchase 100% sustainable energy.

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"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," he added.

IBM Research Advanced Thermal Packaging manager Bruno Michel said, "As we continue to deliver on our long-term vision of a zero emission data center we may eventually achieve a million fold 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."

IBM has also stated that the SuperMUC system is Europe’s most powerful supercomputer and can be used for a wide spectrum of research such as simulating the blood flow behind an artificial heart valve, to devise quieter airplanes to unearthing new insights in geophysics, including the understanding of earthquakes.

The system is also connected to visualisation systems, including a 4K stereoscopic power wall and a five-sided immersive artificial virtual-reality environment or CAVE for visualising 3D data sets from fields, including Earth science, astronomy and medicine.

Jointly funded by the German federal government and the state of Bavaria, the supercomputer will be inaugurated in July 2012 at Leibniz Supercomputing Centre in Garching, Germany.

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