The ability to produce super computers that can make astounding numbers of operations in milliseconds is increasing every year. New facilities that will house data centers are breaking ground. Some of these new facilities are over 100,000 square feet in size and cost more than $100 million to build and furnish, not to mention the data center power consumed.
According to this DatacenterKnowledge report, it might be just as much of a challenge to power these new facilities as it was to come up with the technology to advance the supercomputers. These supercomputers are able to perform in the petaflop-per-second range. This means the data center power bill is going to be massive, which doesn’t fly with the green initiatives that many companies are undertaking.
Some project managers estimate that to operate on an exascale level, which is more than a quadrillion calculations per second, 7,000 mega watts of power is required, which is more than 100 times the power that is needed to power the Microsoft (News - Alert) data center in Chicago. By some accounts, this is also the amount of energy output from the Hoover Dam. The estimated annual cost for this type of energy usage could exceed $60 million.
An exascale computer would operate at a rate of about 1,000 faster than today’s fastest computers. Computers this fast could simulate nuclear fusion for the first time ever, or simulate living cells at the molecular level.
The U.S. Department of Energy has taken note of these data center power needs and sees it as a challenge. However, Japan has been able to take its fastest-performing computer, a 10.51 petaflop model (still nowhere near an exascale-sized computer), and run it off of 12.66 megawatts.
But data center power issues are being addressed at the new LBNL Computational Research and Theory Facility in San Francisco, where ground was broken early this month. To conserve data center power, the facility will use outside air-cooling about 95 percent of the time. Recycling the heat from the computers through the offices rather than using a traditional HVAC system gains further efficiencies.
Dept. of Energy Secretary Steven Chu attended the ceremony at the new facility. He said his department would give Congress a plan that outlines how the U.S. can reach exascale-computing levels by 2020. Mr. Chu said they’ve requested $68.5 million in funding for exascale science research.
While research continues on how to develop an exascale computer, more needs to be done to figure out how to power the behemoth.
Server Technology (News - Alert) continues to make strides in developing innovative solutions that help companies of any size monitor and reduce their data center power. As the demand for data capture, consumption and storage continues to grow exponentially, the opportunity for Server Technology to expand on its offerings will not only benefit customers, but the market as well.
Edited by Carrie Schmelkin