Intel and HP pool resources to build energy efficient supercomputer

Shaking hands

HP and Intel have begun work on building a power efficient supercomputer.

The new system will incorporate Intel's upcoming Xeon Phi co-processors and Xeon chips, and will feature a new design that uses liquids to cool server systems.

The new supercomputer will by used by the US government's Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for research into renewable energy technology.

The new High Performance Computer (HPC) datacentre promises to become one of the world's most efficient installations.

The system is scheduled to deliver full compute capacity in the summer of 2013 and will feature approximately 3,200 Intel Xeon processors.

These will include the current-generation Intel Xeon processor E5-2670, future 22nm Ivy Bridge based processors and approximately 600 new Intel Xeon Phi co-processors.

The total peak performance of the system is expected to exceed one Petaflop (equivalent to a thousand trillion floating point operations per second) and it will be the largest supercomputer to be used exclusively for renewable energy and energy efficiency research.

The energy efficient chips, combined with HP's warm water cooling solution and datacentre design, means this facility could become the world's most efficient datacentre, with a power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.06 or better.

"The heart of NREL is based on a powerful combination of the Intel Xeon processor E5 product family, which leads the datacentre industry in performance per watt, and Intel Xeon Phi co-processors which are setting new records for energy efficiency," said Raj Hazra, vice president and general manager of Intel Technical Computing Group.

"We are proud that the very best energy-efficient processing technology in computing is the foundation for the supercomputer that will drive the research for renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies," he said.

Steve Hammond, NREL computational science director, said the new system would allow NREL to increase its computational capabilities in an environmentally friendly way.

"The new HPC system will dramatically improve our modelling and simulations capabilities used to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies as well as energy system integration," said Hammond.

The new datacentre opens on 18 October and NREL takes delivery of the first server nodes on 5 November.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.