Feeds

Supercomputers need standard shot glass to measure out juice

Can’t fix it unless you can quantify it

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration

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

®

Best practices for enterprise data

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers
They're not emails, they're business records, says court
Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in
He walked over the broken glass, killed the thugs... and er... reconnected the cables*
VMware builds product executables on 50 Mac Minis
And goes to the Genius Bar for support
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Microsoft says 'weird things' can happen during Windows Server 2003 migrations
Fix coming for bug that makes Kerberos croak when you run two domain controllers
Cisco says network virtualisation won't pay off everywhere
Another sign of strain in the Borg/VMware relationship?
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?