7.23.2012

SuperMUC Gets Powered Up

SuperMUC, the fastest supercomputer in Europe and fourth fastest in the world, officially went live on Friday, 20 July during a gala event at the Leibniz Rechenzentrum near Munich, Germany.
Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Hoffmann, president of the BAdW, Prof. Dr. Arndt Bode, Chairman of the Board of LRZ, Martina Koederitz, IBM Germany, Federal Minister Annette Schavan and State Minister Dr. Wolfgang Heubisch (from left) power on SuperMUC.
Speaking at the event, Thierry Van der Pyl, Director of Components and Systems Research at the European Commission, said, "With SuperMUC you are a shining example of where there is a will, there is a way. Europe thanks you for your efforts."
It was nearly six years ago in October 2006 when Nicholas Stern, the former World Bank chief economist and now head of the Economic Service of the British government, commissioned a report called the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. The groundbreaking 700-page document was a wake up call to the world on the dire economic consequences of global warming. He pointed out the importance of reducing carbon emissions stating, "The benefits of strong, early action on climate change outweigh the costs."

That was the spark IBM experts needed to develop a vision and roadmap for an emission-free data center, since data centers consume an estimated 2 percent of the energy in the United States alone.

In a first step demonstration, IBM developed an innovative microchannel cooler, thus proving that a processor can actually be cooled with up to 60 degrees Celsius hot water. The technology was unveiled to the public in March 2008 at the annual CeBIT event to much excitement and fanfare.

The project soon caught the attention of Prof. Dimos Poulikakos, head of the Laboratory of Thermodynamics in New Technologies, at the Swiss university, ETH Zurich. Prof. Poulikakos was so enamored with the concept that he signed a contract with IBM to build a first-of-a-kind hot water-cooled supercomputer dubbed "Aquasar". Through the direct use of waste heat to provide warmth to university buildings, Aquasar's carbon footprint is reduced by up to 85 percent.

By 2025, chip stacks with embedded liquid cooling,
communications in three dimensions and minimal 

power consumption will shrink
supercomputers to the size of a sugar cube
Then in December 2010, IBM brought the concept of a hot-water cooled supercomputer to the Leibniz Rechenzentrum in Garching and signed a contract for SuperMUC, a three petaflop hot water-cooled supercomputer. Roughly 20 months later it was named the fastest supercomputer in Europe and was fourth fastest on the Top500 list.

IBM scientists have now set their sights and minds on the next milestone of 3D chip stacking.

"As we continue to deliver on our long-term vision of a zero-emission data center, we may eventually achieve a million-fold reduction in the size of SuperMUC, so that it can be reduced to the size of a desktop computer with much higher efficiency than today," said Dr. Bruno Michel, manager, Advanced Thermal Packaging, IBM Research.


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