Not your average off-the-shelf system: New IBM supercomputer will heat university buildings

A water-cooled supercomputer, called the Aquasar, is being built as part of a collaborative effort by IBM and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. The project is part of IBM's First of a Kind Program, which leverages relevant research from outside of IBM's own research labs to advance technology innovation.

A water-cooled supercomputer, called the Aquasar, is being built as part of a collaborative effort by IBM and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. The project is part of IBM's First of a Kind Program, which leverages relevant research from outside of IBM's own research labs to advance technology innovation. The supercomputer is expected to be in action by next year.

So, why is Aquasar interesting? By using chip-level cooling and a heat transfer system that will use excess heat diverted into heating the university's buildings, the supercomputer is expected to offer a 40 percent reduction in energy consumption.

The supercomputer is built with two IBM BladeCenter servers (in one rack), and the anticipated peak performance is 10 teraflops. Each blade comes with a "microscale high-performance liquid cooler per processor." The water being used to cool the chips is about 60 degrees Celsius; when the water is output, it will be about 65 degrees. The rack itself will be connected into the university's main water transportation network, so that the heat removed from the chips will be transferred directly into the heating system. The system will eliminate the need for chillers, which consume lots of energy, according to IBM and the Institute.

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