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IBM Hardware

IBM Deploys Hot-Water Cooled Supercomputer 112

MrSeb writes "With the ISC (International Supercomputer Conference) kicking off this week, there's been a flurry of announcements around new supercomputer buildouts. One of the more interesting systems debuting this week is SuperMUC — IBM's new supercomputer at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center in Germany IBM is billing SuperMUC as the first 'hot-water cooled supercomputer,' an advance it claims cut power consumption by 40%. Dubbed Aquasar, the new system looks like any standard water cooler: water is pumped in one side of the blade, circulates throughout the system, and is pumped out. The difference, according to IBM, are the microchannels etched into the copper heatblock above the CPU cores. Rather than simply being dumped, SuperMUC's waste heat is designed to be converted into building heat during winter. Presumably it is mostly radiated away in summer, rather than being dumped into the offices of angry German scientists."
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IBM Deploys Hot-Water Cooled Supercomputer

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  • by mwfischer ( 1919758 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @06:32PM (#40364477) Journal

    Hot and cold isn't that hard. Maybe I am missing a point somewhere.

    You take the heat energy biproduct from a processor and dump it somewhere else. In "normal" this case, an air conditioned room. Heat dissipated is being countered by air conditioning going 24/7. More energy.

    Instead of watercooling, which can refrigerate a fluid (more energy in put and unusable for anything else), this removes waste heat and reuses it elsewhere.

    This isn't going to work but... Instead of sitting in the tub and pissing in it continuously, your waste is being used somewhere else. (This is Germany after all)

    Has anyone ever tested if we actually need air conditioning for a server room? I mean transform one into a "wind tunnel" where the waste heat is either ejected outside or used internally? Instead of a giant cube... what about a rectangle?

    Will this lead to.. yo dawg I heard you like blades so we made your rack of blades into a blade?

  • by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @06:38PM (#40364541)

    "Rather than simply being dumped, SuperMUC's waste heat is designed to be converted into building heat during winter. Presumably it is mostly radiated away in summer"

    They might be storing the heat rather than dumping it in the summer.

    We are building a meat processing facility. Meat processing facilities use a lot of energy for heating water, cooling carcasses, freezing and general storage & air conditioning. To reduce our energy needs we're storing winter in thermal mass so that we can use it during the warm seasons. We're also using the 'waste heat' from our refrigeration compressors to heat water in addition to solar hot water and the backup of propane heating for the water. All of this will save us enormous amounts of money since we won't have to buy as much energy. Good for our carbon foot print and even better for our bottom line as more money will stay in our pockets rather than being dumped into the environment. IBM could do the same.

    See http://sugarmtnfarm.com/butchershop [sugarmtnfarm.com]

  • by Bigby ( 659157 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @06:57PM (#40364671)

    He didn't say "just get rid of AC". He was wondering if you designed the shape of the room where it has a constant draft. That way, the heat is cycled out of the building and cool air is pulled in from the other side. If you had a sever room that was 10 feet wide and 200 feet long, you could have one heck of a wind tunnel effect.

  • by saibot834 ( 1061528 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @06:58PM (#40364689)

    My university building is 80m from SuperMUC; there is a large campus at the site with several thousand students and employees. In winter it most definitely makes sense to use the heat from SuperMUC, as the average temperature is about 0 degrees Celsius. In summer it might be a bit more difficult to dissipate heat on hot days, though the average temperature is still only 19 decrees Celsius for July.

  • Respect the H2O (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MarcQuadra ( 129430 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @07:03PM (#40364745)

    People need to understand and respect just how awesome water is as a coolant. The specific heat of the stuff (basically, how much heat you can 'sink' into a gram of it) and its benign, well-understood nature, and the fact that its density only changes a little bit between freezing and boiling points make it quite awesome.

    I live in a city with a river through it. I really don't know why they aren't doing cooling via air-to-water heat pumps. It's really absurd to blow fans all day when the river could carry away 100X the heat without too many ill effects.

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @08:47PM (#40365435) Journal

    Laundry shops need a lot of very hot water to "cook" the dirty linen that they receive everyday

    Almost all laundry shops are using water heaters - whether they be electric powered water heaters or gas-burner powered water heaters - to heat up the water

    Here's my proposal:

    On the side of all super-computer center or any large scale data-center the authority should draw up a special "zone" for laundry shops

    That way, all the hot water generated from the computers will be put to good use - without any additional wastage of precious energy resource

    It's kinda fits into the "Go Green" concept that is so popular these days

  • by anubi ( 640541 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @01:35AM (#40366819) Journal
    At night, my roof faces the black sky.

    I notice my car gets wet from condensation. Its "beaming" its thermal energy off into the night sky - just as it will accept energy from the sun during the day, becoming quite hot.

    I figure if I am streaming 90 degree water into a solar collector at night, it may cool it off to 80 degrees or so - especially if I combine it with evaporative cooling.

    Its the typical "it gets cold at night" thing.

    If you were in outer space with an infrared detector over my house at night, you should see my solar collector "lit up".

    The idea is I have a lot of BTU I want to get rid of in my quest to liquefy propane gas at high pressure. I can heat up air ( conventional method of doing it ), or transfer the heat to a cooler mass, ( water in my case ), evaporate water with it, and I want to experiment to see how much BTU I can radiate with a standard solar collector panel ( the ones with liquid channels ).

    I would like to experiment with standard PV panels bonded onto liquid-channel panels so that during the day, the PV makes electricity, while the liquid panels not only cool the PV array, but provide preheat for a 100 gallon water tank.

    Fluid circulation pumps will route water from the tank, through the collector, then back to the tank as long as collector temperature exceeds tank temperature.

    Of course, once the sun sets, the panel is no longer experiences an influx of about 1KW/m^2 solar energy.

    At night, it will cool off and become quite cold all by itself as it faces the night sky. That's when I am going to attempt to heat the panel back up by circulating water used to cool the propane exchanger ( condenser ). I see it as about 100 square foot of blackbody radiator. What I want is some practical experience on how many BTU I can get rid of doing it this way, as the circulator pumps draw much less energy than the fans required to move the air in a liquid-air exchanger.

    I already have an aluminum roof. That thing gets so cold during the summer I have been having a problem with condensation causing mildew problems. Despite outside air temps of 80-90 F. For condensation to form, the roof has to drop below dew point temperature, and judging from how fast I am condensing liquid water from the air, I get a gut feeling I am already beaming out quite a lot of heat.

    So, in a sense, I am "beaming" the energy to deep space just as a light bulb "beams" the energy of its heated filament into a dark room.

    By far, the most practical is to simply evaporative cool the system... but what if water is not freely available ( design for the Middle East. ).

    That is what I liked about your post. You saw the heat being generated in a server farm, and noted it was just the right temperature for use in a laundromat. A helluva lot of BTU that could have been used - wasted. If more people had your mindset, we could enjoy our creature comforts without paying twice for energy. It simply doesn't make sense to waste things.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter