IBM in hot water over Aquasar green HPC hype (and Justin Bieber)

By Richi Jennings. July 6, 2010.

IBM is crowing about its latest water-cooled HPC frame. Aquasar, its new "green" supercomputer, is cooled by "hot" water, which is then used to heat adjacent office buildings. But water cooling's nothing new, so in IT Blogwatch, bloggers wonder why IBM calls it "a new era".

Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention 4chan sends Justin Bieber to N. Korea...


    Chris Mellor warms us up:

Aquasar ... uses up to 40 per cent less energy than an air-cooled machine, and ... its waste heat is used to warm adjacent buildings. ... designed and built by IBM researchers in Zurich. It is built from a combination of Cell and Nehalem processors.


The water-cooled chassis feature water-blocks, cooling elements attached to the processors, which have water at [140 °F] circulating ... rising to [150] and keeping the processors below their [185] upper limit. The water then goes through a heat exchanger ... passing nine kilowatts of thermal power into the ... building heating system.

Rich Miller channels a hyperbolic quote:

IBM says [Aquasar] marks “a new era in energy-aware computing.” ... The deployment comes a year after [Swiss Federal Institute of Technology] and IBM scientists announced plans to collaborate on chip-level water-cooling and energy reuse.


The Aquasar system achieves a performance of six Teraflops and has an energy efficiency of about 450 megaflops per watt. ...  The entire cooling system is a closed circuit. ... Requires about [2.5 gallons] of water for cooling, and ... a flow rate of roughly [7.5 gallons] per minute.

Mike Magee (or one of his acolytes) jokes, and notes IBM's pride:

Aquasar may or may not have been named after a Pokemon.


IBM reckons its supercomputers are the most energy efficient in the world, backed up by research from the Supercomputing Green 500 List ... 17 out of 20 on the top ten are built on IBM technology. It also holds 65 of the top 100 positions.

Heather Clancy does, too:

The greenest systems listed [are three] QPACE systems that use the IBM PowerXCell 8i processor ... housed at the Julich Supercomputing Centre, University of Regensburg and the University of Wuppertalare. ... IBM is also behind the list’s most energy-efficient x86-only cluster. ... Ranked 9th, [it] is housed at Mississippi State University.


IBM actually dominates the Top 20 ... claiming 17 of the top 20 positions.

Meanwhile, Matylda Czarnecka notes another water-cooling advantage:

It could also reduce the initial costs of setting up a data center, allowing companies to ... cool each machine as they’re added instead of ... an entire room regardless of the number of machines in it.


The system works thanks to micro-channel liquid coolers that are attached directly to processors. ... IBM says water is 4,000 times more efficient at removing heat than air. ... Water was commonly used to cool mainframes and other large computing systems, but typically that water was kept at low temperatures.

And Sebastian Pop recalls HP's earlier 'moove': [You're fired -Ed.]

Companies that set up high-performance computing (HPC) installations do their best to reduce the environment footprint. ... Even more unusual plans, such as using cow manure as a power source, have cropped up over the years.

And Finally...

4chan prank means Justin Bieber must tour North Korea

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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