Green computing dominates HPC workshop

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The Cornell Center for Advanced Computing hosted a regional high-performance computing workshop for IT professionals on 2 May at its Ithaca, New York campus.

Fifty-five IT directors, CIOs and systems managers attended the event, which was opened by Dell and included speakers from Cluster Resources, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, and DataDirect Networks.

Tim Carroll, senior manager HPCC at Dell, said the biggest HPC deployment issue faced today is improperly specified power and cooling. ‘Get your facilities folks engaged early and ensure that they understand what the power issues are,’ he explained. ‘It's no longer just a question of doing a simple tonnage calculation.’ Equally important, Carroll added, is carefully estimating what it will take to get the application up and running. While Dell deploys a very high volume of industry standard clusters, the company is building more and more custom-based systems for HPC and web 2.0 applications.

Michael Jackson, president of Cluster Resources, believes that usability is one of the biggest inhibitors to making HPC a mass market. He detailed solutions to address this usability issue as well as a new innovation called the Moab Hybrid Cluster, an HPC solution that dynamically changes cluster nodes between Linux and Windows based on workload and application needs. Scheduling systems such as Moab can help decrease power consumption as well. ‘Power savings for idle nodes, thermal balancing, and grid level workload placement based on local power costs will ultimately deliver a more cost efficient and green sensitive computing environment,’ Jackson noted.