An Australian ‘petascale’ supercomputer is to use geothermal cooling to counter water supply issues.
Australia’s Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope is to incorporate geothermal cooling for its supercomputer
The petascale operation (capable of reaching performance in excess of one petaflops, i.e. one quadrillion floating point operations per second) is being built in arid Perth, so a geothermal solution avoided the need for a significant water supply.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) agency began investigating the viability of a geothermal approach in 2011. Its original was to seek out hot aquifers from 3 km down, and use the heat to power the coolers.
CSIRO’s project director, Steve Harvey, said: “The system is known as groundwater cooling, and works by pumping cool water from a depth of around 100 metres through an above-ground heat exchanger to cool the supercomputer, then reinjecting the water underground again.
“Although the water returned to the aquifer is a few degrees warmer than the surrounds, the groundwater cooling system is engineered to prevent negative impacts to the surrounding environment.”
With zero net use of groundwater, the system is also environmentally friendly. CSIRO estimates that using groundwater cooling to cool the Pawsey Centre supercomputer will save approximately 38.5 million litres of water every year, in comparison to using conventional cooling towers. That’s enough to fill more than 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools. If deployed more widely, the technology also has the potential to replace cooling towers in buildings all over Perth.
* Don’t forget to register for RAC’s Data Centre Cooling Question Time – April 12th.
The event, which has seen evaporative cooling giant Munters sign up as first sponsor, has proved popular with the supply chain of the rapidly changing sector and registrations have already passed the 70-mark.
Delegates included major manufacturers and contractors, together with data centre managers, energy managers and facilities managers from organisations as diverse as IBM, the BBC, FMs and local authorities.
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