Feeds

'We don't use UPS. If we did we'd have huge UPSs and tiny computers'

When the heat is on, the last thing a supercomputer needs is a big battery

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

The heatwave-driven outage at the VLSCI supercomputing facility last week could have been worse than it was, with power cuts also a risk, the facility has confirmed.

A senior systems administrator at VLSCI, Chris Samuel, has discussed the outage and the lessons learned with The Register.

While the reason for the shutdown was heat, Samuel said there were also concerns that the heatwave might lead to a power cut. Melburnians were warned last week that as the heatwave dragged on (and air-conditioners laboured to cope) that there might be cuts.

There were some cuts, but they didn't affect the VLSCI, which is a good thing, because there isn't a backup. As he told us, power cuts are always a concern: “we don't use UPS for the computer systems – we would end up with huge UPSs and tiny computer systems.”

“That said, we've always been very lucky with power around this area … it might be because of our proximity to [Melbourne] hospitals.”

As we wrote yesterday, the incoming water temperature ended up exceeding the specification for the facility. The cooling is a closed system (thanks also to the commenter who also noticed this).

The VLSCI setup, Samuel explained has one coolant loop from the roof into a buffer tank. From there, the water is fed to CDUs – coolant distribution units – where they dump the heat from the machines. Inside the machine rooms, there are three closed loops: one each for two Blue Gene/Q racks, and a third for the water cooled rear rack doors for the other machines.

The water is then circulated to the chillers on the roof, “and the cycle begins again”, he said. In the extreme heat, the roof temperatures meant that the chillers were delivering water that Samuel explained “was getting close to the threshold for the racks, and was still climbing.”

Avoca was the most affected system, simply because it's so much more powerful than the Merri or Barcoo machines: “Even though it's far more power efficient than the Intel systems, its combined heat generating capability is huge – it dumps far more heat into the water than both the Intel systems combined.” ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Attack of the clones: Oracle's latest Red Hat Linux lookalike arrives
Oracle's Linux boss says Larry's Linux isn't just for Oracle apps anymore
THUD! WD plonks down SIX TERABYTE 'consumer NAS' fatboy
Now that's a LOT of porn or pirated movies. Or, you know, other consumer stuff
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.