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Title: PNNL streamlines energy-guzzling computers

Abstract

In a room the size of a garage, two rows of six-foot-tall racks holding supercomputer hard drives sit back-to-back. Thin tubes and wires snake off the hard drives, slithering into the corners. Stepping between the rows, a rush of heat whips around you -- the air from fans blowing off processing heat. But walk farther in, between the next racks of hard drives, and the temperature drops noticeably. These drives are being cooled by a non-conducting liquid that runs right over the hardworking processors. The liquid carries the heat away in tubes, saving the air a few degrees. This is the Energy Smart Data Center at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The bigger, faster, and meatier supercomputers get, the more energy they consume. PNNL's Andres Marquez has developed this test bed to learn how to train the behemoths in energy efficiency. The work will help supercomputers perform better as well. Processors have to keep cool or suffer from "thermal throttling," says Marquez. "That's the performance threshold where the computer is too hot to run well. That threshold is an industry secret." The center at EMSL, DOE's national scientific user facility at PNNL, harbors several ways of experimenting with energy usage. Formore » example, the room's air conditioning is isolated from the rest of EMSL -- pipes running beneath the floor carry temperature-controlled water through heat exchangers to cooling towers outside. "We can test whether it's more energy efficient to cool directly on the processing chips or out in the water tower," says Marquez. The hard drives feed energy and temperature data to a network server running specially designed software that controls and monitors the data center. To test the center’s limits, the team runs the processors flat out – not only on carefully controlled test programs in the Energy Smart computers, but also on real world software from other EMSL research, such as regional weather forecasting models. Marquez's group is also developing "power aware computing", where the computer programs themselves perform calculations more energy efficiently. Maybe once computers get smart about energy, they'll have tips for their users.« less

Authors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1079752
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-62589
30998
DOE Contract Number:  
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
DOE Pulse, 272(October 6, 2008):2
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: DOE Pulse, 272(October 6, 2008):2
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
supercomputer; data center; energy efficiency; Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory

Citation Formats

Beckman, Mary T., and Marquez, Andres. PNNL streamlines energy-guzzling computers. United States: N. p., 2008. Web.
Beckman, Mary T., & Marquez, Andres. PNNL streamlines energy-guzzling computers. United States.
Beckman, Mary T., and Marquez, Andres. Mon . "PNNL streamlines energy-guzzling computers". United States.
@article{osti_1079752,
title = {PNNL streamlines energy-guzzling computers},
author = {Beckman, Mary T. and Marquez, Andres},
abstractNote = {In a room the size of a garage, two rows of six-foot-tall racks holding supercomputer hard drives sit back-to-back. Thin tubes and wires snake off the hard drives, slithering into the corners. Stepping between the rows, a rush of heat whips around you -- the air from fans blowing off processing heat. But walk farther in, between the next racks of hard drives, and the temperature drops noticeably. These drives are being cooled by a non-conducting liquid that runs right over the hardworking processors. The liquid carries the heat away in tubes, saving the air a few degrees. This is the Energy Smart Data Center at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The bigger, faster, and meatier supercomputers get, the more energy they consume. PNNL's Andres Marquez has developed this test bed to learn how to train the behemoths in energy efficiency. The work will help supercomputers perform better as well. Processors have to keep cool or suffer from "thermal throttling," says Marquez. "That's the performance threshold where the computer is too hot to run well. That threshold is an industry secret." The center at EMSL, DOE's national scientific user facility at PNNL, harbors several ways of experimenting with energy usage. For example, the room's air conditioning is isolated from the rest of EMSL -- pipes running beneath the floor carry temperature-controlled water through heat exchangers to cooling towers outside. "We can test whether it's more energy efficient to cool directly on the processing chips or out in the water tower," says Marquez. The hard drives feed energy and temperature data to a network server running specially designed software that controls and monitors the data center. To test the center’s limits, the team runs the processors flat out – not only on carefully controlled test programs in the Energy Smart computers, but also on real world software from other EMSL research, such as regional weather forecasting models. Marquez's group is also developing "power aware computing", where the computer programs themselves perform calculations more energy efficiently. Maybe once computers get smart about energy, they'll have tips for their users.},
doi = {},
journal = {DOE Pulse, 272(October 6, 2008):2},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2008},
month = {10}
}