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

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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.” ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
It's Big, it's Blue... it's simply FABLESS! IBM's chip-free future
Or why the reversal of globalisation ain't gonna 'appen
'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!
CAGE MATCH: Microsoft, Dell open co-located bit barns in Oz
Whole new species of XaaS spawning in the antipodes
Microsoft and Dell’s cloud in a box: Instant Azure for the data centre
A less painful way to run Microsoft’s private cloud
AWS pulls desktop-as-a-service from the PC
Support for PCoIP protocol means zero clients can run cloudy desktops
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.