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Supercomputing Crucial to Clean Energy Production

By HPC Wire

February 15, 2013

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The U.S. Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has acquired a 500-teraflop SGI supercomputer to advance energy and environmental research.

Slated to go live in early spring, the High-Performance Computer for Energy and the Environment (HPCEE) has 24,192 2.6-gHz Intel Xeon E5-2670 cores with 48,384 GB of memory in 1,512 computational nodes.

NETL's Chris Guenther says the system ranked 55th on the latest Top500 list, and 403rd on the Green500 list. However HPCEE offers cooling and power with a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) in the 1.03 to 1.06 range without any special modifications, meaning that just 1 percent of total electrical consumption is used to cool equipment. This efficiency boost is expected to save NETL an average of $450,000 per year.

Guenther says NETL previously has relied on many small computer clusters, but users have sometimes been unable to find available cores to perform their work. The new supercomputer will provide researchers with more cores, enabling them to model complex problems.

NETL is developing commercial sorbent-based carbon dioxide capture systems, experimenting with chemical-looping technology to reduce the pollution and cost associated with electricity generation from coal, and working with coal gasification.

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