Supercomputers, Data Centers, and Energy Efficiency
Who would think that the UK Meteorological Office would be a big polluter? But apparently because of the supercomputer they use to predict climate change, their energy requirements are massive. So what can we do to regulate and minimize the amazing energy consumption required by supercomputers?
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory uses a supercomputer, the Cray XT5 Jaguar, and its capabilities are truly impressive. It takes up more space than a college basketball court and is rated at 1.64 petaflops. It uses energy equivalent to what a whole town would use, up to 7 megawatts of power. Energy requirements like this can cost tens of millions of dollars, as much of that going to cooling as to actual processing.
With technology this complex and demanding, current trends in computer architecture don’t really satisfy concerns about staying green and keeping expenses reasonable.
Fortunately, and very interestingly, with the expansion of potential uses for GPUs, NVIDIA has succeeded in greatly reducing the environmental impact and energy consumption of some supercomputers. See HPC Wire’s article about greening data centers for more details, but it looks like this idea of high-density computing can really help data centers get greener.
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