3 of 8Image
PGS processing hall
The processing hall consists of around 104 racks distributed across 5,737 square feet. The hardware is predominantly powerful one rack-unit (1U) servers. "Because we're HPC [high-performance computing] we mostly use 1Us from the major vendors — HP, Dell, Lenovo. The 1U is the most cost efficient, generally run, with dual processors at six cores each," Turff said.
A wander round the datacentre mostly found Dell PowerEdge R610s, 1950s and a few Xeon ThinkServers. Storage-wise, there was an even spread of IBM System Storage D553300, FC5820s and some Dell Panasas.
For compute jobs, PGS had considered using specialised field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) for certain graphical processing tasks, but the rate of development in Intel systems was too high for FPGAs to match cost effectively, Turff said.
"[FPGAs] can do a fantastic job, but by the time you've done the development, Intel has added a bunch of cores and brought the performance cost down," he said.The megacentre was opened on November 2008 to replace a 15-year-old facility. "It's been remarkably trouble free, but when you design it from scratch, it's a lot easier to deal with than datacentres that are very old," Turff said. The facility was designed by Keysource, a datacentre specialist contractor.
Photo credit: Jack Clark
Want to know more about PGS's 'lunatic fringe' computing? Read ZDNet UK's datacentre tour diary.