Energy efficient supercomputer helps heat building

The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern has a built a fast and energy-efficient supercomputer. Herkules makes use of solar power and an innovative heat recovery to process data at a rate of 100 million Flops/W.

This places it at number 48 on the Green500 – a reordering of the Top500 supercomputer centres based on their energy efficiency. However, it’s a close run contest, with IBM’s BlueGene computer taking the top ranking with an efficiency of 112 million Flops/W.

Herkules achieved its placing through a combination of well-chosen components and an innovative design. Instead of an energy-consuming air conditioning system, the computer uses a smart ventilation system with integrated heat recovery. This makes use of an absorption refrigerator to cool the CPUs, but also makes use of the excess heat to warm the building in cool weather.

The specially chosen components include power-saving dual core processors and efficient power supplies. ‘We deliberately chose not to use the very fastest CPUs for our computer, but those that yield the best performance per watt,’ says Dr Franz-Josef Pfeundt, the head of IT at the institute. The team also found that reducing the number of memory modules per computer also significantly reduced the power consumption.

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