PORTLAND, Ore. IBM Corp. has unveiled a water-cooled "Hydro-Cluster" supercomputer it claims is five times faster than previous models while delivering a three-fold increase in energy efficiency.
Based on IBM's latest Power6 microprocessor, the company said its new Power 575 supercomputer uses water-cooled copper plates above each microprocessor to remove heat. According to IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory, where the water-cooling mechanism was invented, water is up to 4,000 times more effective in removing heat from electronics, compared to air.
Data centers using the Power 575 would require 80 percent fewer air conditioning units and 40 percent less power.
IBM will reveal details of the energy efficiency of its Power 575 architecture at the upcoming ITherm 2008 (May 28 in Orlando, Fla.), a conference on the thermal cooling of electronic devices, packages and systems.
IBM's Power 575 supercomputer uses 448 Power6 cores in a single rack with 3.5 terrabytes of memory, divided among 14 nodes each operating at 600 Gflops. Combined performance totals 8.4 trillion Tflops.
IBM said it has orders for the Power 575 from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (Garching, Germany), the National Center for Atmospheric Research (Boulder, Colo.) and the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (Reading, U.K.).
IBM's Zurich described its concept for a "zero-emission" data center using water-cooled copper plates at the CeBIT 2008 exhibition last month. The Power 575 is the first commercial implementation.
Unlike previous water-cooled architectures like Apple's PowerPC-based workstations, IBM's approach does not recirculate water. Instead, heated water is removed and a constant supply of fresh water is fed into the system. The zero-emission concept focuses on reusing waste water for other purposes.
The Zurich researchers are currently working on a next-generation system that will circulate the water through the processor chips themselves, rather than transferring the heat to a separate copper plate above the processors.