Published on 31-May-2011
"The importance of the solution is that we are now able to continue growing these research clusters to support scientific diversity and to offer new insight into some of the toughest problems that we face, as a country and as a people." - John Campbell, associate vice president, Rosen Center for Advanced Computing
The Rosen Center for Advanced Computing at Purdue University
Energy Efficiency, Green/Sustainability
IBM Business Partner:
This case study examines how IBM Global Technology Services helped the Rosen Center for Advanced Computing at Purdue University expand a data center with insufficient power, tight space and limited chilled water capacity.
The Rosen Center for Advanced Computing (RCAC) at Purdue University was expanding its existing cluster and sought to support new technology with minimal additions to the cooling footprint or costs.
IBM Global Technology Services extended the power supply and installed efficient coolant distribution units, which Coolcentric then connected to IBM Cool Blue™ rear door heat exchanger units.
--Supports increased server density without increasing the room air cooling requirements --Uses only 10 kilowatts of power to run the circulating pumps to support 500 kilowatts of heat from IT technology --Optimizes power, cooling and IT density, with a minimal investment
The Rosen Center for Advanced Computing (RCAC, www.rcac.purdue.edu ) is a research center at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. RCAC provides advanced computational resources and data storage systems, as well as expertise in a broad range of high-performance computing activities, to support Purdue faculty and staff researchers from departments across the university. Purdue is a national leader in providing computing resources to research faculty, with two cluster supercomputers ranked in the Top 500 internationally.
Powerful, high-density computing
To provide more-powerful computing to researchers, RCAC needed to increase computing and data storage to enhance its existing cluster with a 1,500-node expansion. Because its data center was located in the basement of an existing building, successfully increasing the IT capacity meant overcoming the challenges of insufficient power, tight space and limited chilled water.
A chilled water source from an older mainframe existed at the facility, but the new server and storage technology would still require extensive additional plumbing and a power distribution system. It would also require a highly efficient cooling solution capable of working within the tight confines of an area not originally designed with the cooling requirements of a high-density data center in mind.
A tight budget requires an even tighter response
RCAC had just over five months to move from the initial proposal to project completion, so time was of the essence. As with most supercomputer installations, maximizing the spending on the technology that drives research is the priority, leaving only a small amount of funding for necessary facilities support. Because server power densities have increased by 20 times over the past decade, RCAC needed an innovative cooling solution that could meet its strict requirements.
IBM Global Technology Services recommended extremely efficient and cost-effective IBM Cool Blue™ rear door heat exchanger (RDHx) technology developed by IBM and Coolcentric for its obvious ability to meet RCAC’s business needs. “The IBM and Coolcentric solution came in at a lower price than any of our other options and, in many ways, offered a nice flexibility and match with our existing infrastructure,” explains John Campbell, associate vice president at RCAC.
A rear door heat exchanger was ideal because the technology is designed to allow for an increase in server density without increasing the room air cooling requirements. It removes heat generated at the source—from the back of the computer system—before it enters the room.
The rear door heat exchangers install on the back of each server rack and act as a passive radiator—using a water-cooled exchanger to reduce the heat from the back of each server rack. Capable of cooling 14.4 kilowatts per rack, the entire solution can neutralize the 500 kilowatts of heat generated by the data center using only 10 kilowatts of power to run the circulating pumps. This means that no additional air-conditioning is required to maintain the room at an optimal temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Laying the groundwork for success
For this project, IBM and Coolcentric enlisted the help of multiple businesses and subcontractors, including Eaton Corporation and Advanced Facilities Inc. (AFI). Given the number of moving parts and time constraints, effective coordination was of paramount importance to project success. IBM Global Technology Services handled the project management and was tasked with hiring and coordinating all subcontractors, scheduling the work, and closely monitoring progress to help ensure high-quality work.
In addition to providing project management support, IBM Global Technology Services installed Eaton power distribution units and remote power panels to extend an additional 600 kilowatts to the cluster. After the power infrastructure was in place, four coolant distribution units (CDUs) were installed. Each CDU was connected to 10 RDHx units—for a total of 40 RDHx units—via pressure-tested flexible hoses.
Ready for research
With the new solution in place, RCAC is now able to cost-effectively provide Purdue University with a centralized, much more powerful computing resource using the latest technology. In addition, because the solution is highly flexible and capable of providing additional cooling capacity, RCAC has the option of extending or modifying the data center as the university’s computing needs continue to grow.
- IBM IT Facilities Assessment, Design and Construction Services
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Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
GTS ITS Site & Facilities: IT Facilities Assess/Design/Constr, GTS Data Center Services
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