Feeds

Supercomputers need standard shot glass to measure out juice

Can’t fix it unless you can quantify it

High performance access to file storage

Webcast The biggest challenge in getting to the next level of supercomputer performance – Exascale – is the massive amounts of electricity these systems will consume. On a smaller scale, energy consumption also inhibits HPC installations. The problem isn’t just getting enough plugs from your walls to the grid; it’s also the cost of electricity when you’re guzzling it in such massive quantities.

Regardless of where you live or the deal you’ve cut with your local utility, megawatts of power cost mega-dough. Here in the hydropower-rich Pacific Northwest, commercial customers pay around 10 cents per kilowatt hour, and industrial users pay about 6.5 cents for the same juice (although that’s an ‘interruptible’ rate – which is probably a deal-breaker for HPC installations). At a dime per KWh ($100 per MWh), the annual cost per megawatt comes in at $876,000.

The average energy consumption of the top 10 systems on the Top500 list is 4.8 megawatts, meaning an average bill of around $4.2 million. The K computer, at the top of the list, consumes 12.6 megawatts, which would cost more than $11m per year if it was relocated somewhere near my house.

The point is that big energy usage means huge costs. The industry is well aware of this, of course, and is intent on designing processors, I/O, storage and other components that provide higher flops per watt. But verifying and quantifying these gains accurately is a problem at both the data centre and individual system level.

We know how to measure energy consumption; it’s not rocket science, even when measuring the consumption of systems that actually do rocket science. The problem is two-fold. First, there aren’t enough organisations measuring their real-world energy consumption. Second, there are multiple ways to measure juice use – methods that vary in scope of measurement and also accuracy.

Enter the Energy Efficient High Performance Computing Group (EE HPC WG). They’ve pulled together a set of industry players ranging from very large HPC installations like the US-based Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, industry trackers like the Top500, Green500 and GreenGrid folks, along with reps from the vendor community – all with the goal of figuring out the best way to measure IT energy consumption.

In the webcast we talk with Natalie Bates, chairperson of the EE HPC WG, and Erich Strohmaier, a co-author of the Top500 and head of Future Technologies at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, about the progress their group has made toward providing the industry with an energy measurement blueprint. It’s a thoughtful and interesting conversation and a good preview for what’s coming down the road.

Watch Video

®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Bored with trading oil and gold? Why not flog some CLOUD servers?
Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans cloud spot exchange
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.