The main objective of a supercomputer currently under development at Poland’s National Center for Nuclear Research (NCBJ) Świerk is to assist the Polish power generation industry. Computing power of the supercomputer will soon increase many times. Tender proceedings aimed to purchase processors of a computing power comparable to combined power of about 20 thousand PCs have just got off the ground. No computing centre in the country has similar power at their disposal.
NCBJ has just initiated a series of tender proceedings for delivery of computing hardware of total capacity on the order of 500 TFLOPS i.e. 500 billion floating point operations per second. The computer cluster in NCBJ currently under development within the Świerk Computing Centre (CIS) project will be the sole in Poland computer facility of similar power and fall within the 60 most powerful supercomputers in the world.
“500 TFLOPS is equivalent to total capacity of more or less 20 thousand average (i.e. not the cheapest) PCs used in our homes and offices. No institution in Poland has got a similar computing power at their disposal,” explained Professor Wojciech Wiślicki, the CIŚ project Head. “The new infrastructure will increase our capacity to compute data by more than 25 times, and that way will obviously improve availability of the services offered within the CIS project, as well as their scope & range.”
The CIS computer cluster is being developed with the Polish power generation industry with Polish researchers’ needs in mind. It is currently composed of 1,920 processing cores, 7.5 TB RAM, and 560 TB disk storage. The theoretical performance limit of such an infrastructure is 17.25 TFLOPS. The cluster is predominantly used to test dedicated software and to analyze requirements that must be met to efficiently use such software. The so-far gathered experience is indispensable to reasonably work out terms of tenders for the main part of the infrastructure.
The significance of the fact that the cluster will soon be extended also is pointed out by Professor Grzegorz Wrochna, NCBJ Director General. “The planned buy is a milestone on the way to develop a proper IT backstage in the programme to construct the first nuclear power plant in Poland. Besides, new computing power will also be an important factor in R&D projects accomplished by our Institute.”
Architecture of the to-be-bought computing infrastructure has been selected with two factors in mind: the highest possible computing power and a reasonable energy efficiency. Some of the most modern solutions in cooling/power supply/disk storage systems will be utilized.
“We have decided to employ a water cooling system, as such systems are capable to transfer almost 4,000 times more heat than air-based ones. The technology will allow us to soar energy efficiency of our hardware i.e. to dramatically increase available computing power per unit of electric power consumed by the supercomputer,” explained M.Eng. Adam Padée, Head of the CIS Computing Infrastructure Division. “Growing demand for computing resources together with huge costs of running large collections of energy-inefficient hardware combine into the challenge of to-day: to maximize output from every consumed Watt of power rather than to construct at any price a highly efficient computing system.”
NCBJ experts estimate that the new water-based hardware cooling system will help to reduce electricity bills by up to 80 percent as compared to traditional air-based solutions. New-generation energy-efficient processors and an intelligent management system are expected to further reduce infrastructure running costs.