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Facility Testbed

For computers to continue improving performance, component size must be reduced and more processors must be added. Constraining the physical size of the computer leads to increased power density, requiring more efficient heat removal.

The Energy Smart Data Center (ESDC) testbed facility is a first-of-its-kind center of excellence dedicated to developing more efficient methods of managing energy use and associated cooling of data centers. ESDC has accessibility to industry researchers, and independent evaluations will be conducted at the ESDC testbed to validate new technologies and equipment.

The testbed is located in the William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), a U.S. Department of Energy national scientific user facility located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington. The testbed occupies a separate, 700 square feet room adjacent to the Molecular Science Computing Facility (MSCF) High Performance Computing Center.

The ESDC supercomputer, NW-ICE, will be used for scientific research while ESDC researchers study energy consumption and test new cooling technologies. NW-ICE is an IBM System Cluster 1350 using SprayCool™ technology. There are seven compute racks in the testbed, five with SprayCool Thermal Servers that control the SprayCool modules attached to the two processors in each of the servers in the rack.

The SprayCool modules replace the normal processor heat sinks, using evaporative cooling with Fluorinert™ to move excess heat to the heat exchanger in the Thermal Server, which is cooled by facility chilled water and located in the bottom of the rack. Two compute racks are initially being left in their normal air-cooled mode for purposes of comparison. The eighth rack contains network switches and is completely air cooled.

The purpose of the testbed is to monitor the energy and cooling of a top-ranked computer in a closed environment. The testbed will provide a fully integrated program that addresses the critical power and heat management issues facing leadership-class computing.