IBM and ASTRON provide microserver prototypes to three Dutch partners

One 64-bit Microserver
When it goes live by 2024, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope will collect a deluge of radio signals from deep space. More specifically, every day thousands of antennas located in southern Africa and Australia will collectively gather 14 exabytes of data and store one petabyte. The SKA has been called "the ultimate Big Data challenge."

The distributed design of the SKA has a total antenna area of one square kilometer. And due to the large volume of big data it can collect, a high-performance computing architecture with data transfer links with a capacity that far exceeds current state-of-the-art technology must be developed to manage the process of gathering, storing and analyzing the 13 billion-year-old data.

One of the key pieces of this high-performance computing architecture is a 64-bit microserver. At 133 × 55 mm2 the microserver contains all of the essential functions of today’s servers, which are 4 to 10 times larger in size.

Not only is the microserver compact, it is also very energy-efficient. One of its innovations is hot-water cooling, which in addition to keeping the chip operating temperature below 85 degrees C, will also transport electrical power by means of a copper plate. The concept is based on the same technology IBM developed for the SuperMUC supercomputer located outside of Munich, Germany. IBM scientists hope to keep each microserver operating between 35–40 watts including the system on a chip (SOC).

8 cell-phone sized microservers
in a small package.
While the microserver has been demonstrated at conferences, including CeBIT, and this week at SC15 in Austin, IBM and ASTRON haven't provided any to external parties until now.

Earlier today at the ASTRON & IBM Centre for Exascale Technology in Dwingeloo, Netherlands, scientists and engineers from the two groups provided three micro servers to Philips Drachten, Sensor City Assen and the Technical University of Eindhoven. 

Philips Drachten will focus on integrating the microserver in the smart factory of the future, also known as Industry 4.0. Based on a future where robots can see, hear and feel, the microserver would be invaluable to exchange all that unstructured data fast to make the right decisions. Sensor City Assen plans to use the microserver in places where an ordinary server does not fit in order to analyze large amounts of data, directly. Think of noise, CO2 emissions and traffic flow, for instance. And finally, the Technical University of Eindhoven will integrate the microserver into a new method expected to enable data centers to operate faster and greener.

Labels: , ,