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

Security for virtualized datacentres

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.” ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
IBM storage revenues sink: 'We are disappointed,' says CEO
Time to put the storage biz up for sale?
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
CAGE MATCH: Microsoft, Dell open co-located bit barns in Oz
Whole new species of XaaS spawning in the antipodes
VMware's tool to harden virtual networks: a spreadsheet
NSX security guide lands in intriguing format
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.