IBM and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology are building the Aquasar, a new supercomputer that will use water to keep the system cool and will recycle some of its waste heat to help warm buildings at the university. IBM says the Aquasar will be a first step toward more environmentally friendly supercomputing. "Energy is arguably the number one challenge humanity will be facing in the 21st century," says Aquasar lead investigator Dimos Poulikakos. "We cannot afford anymore to design computer systems based on the criterion of computational speed and performance alone."
Although Aquasar's top speed of 10 teraflops will only be a fraction of what some of the world's top supercomputers are capable of achieving, it will still be 500 times more powerful than a single Core 2 Duo processor. IBM officials say the power consumption of one of Aquasar's racks will be about 10 KW, while the Blue Gene/L supercomputer consumes about 40 KW per rack, and the average power consumption of a supercomputer in the top 500 list is 257 KW.
Aquasar's water-cooling system will feature high performance micro-channel coolers that are attached directly to the backside of the processors, bringing the water closer to the chips than ever before. The heated water from the chip is cooled when it passes through a passive heat exchanger, where it will be channeled into the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology's heating system.
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