URS Taps SGI for 500 Teraflop Supercomputer
October 5, 2012

URS Taps SGI for 500 Teraflop Supercomputer

The work is for the DOE’s National Energy Technology Lab for a self-contained green data center technology.

FREMONT, California —SGI has reveaed that URS Energy and Construction, Inc. has partnered with SGI to design, build and deploy an energy-efficient SGI ICE Cube Air modular data center based high-performance computing (HPC) system to support the United States Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory's (NETL) Carbon Capture & Storage Initiative and its Electrical Grid Upgrade Programs, which enable the transition to electric cars. The system installation and testing is currently under way in Morgantown, West Virginia.

"To meet our charter of both leading and supporting energy options to fuel our national economy, as well as strengthening our national security and improving our environment, URS is pleased to work with SGI in the fabrication and deployment of this powerful, expandable and energy-efficient modular data center," said Dave Speed, operations manager at URS. "At 500 teraflops, this SGI system ranks among the top HPC systems in the world. The system will be used by NETL to drive accelerated development of cleaner and more efficient methods of coal-based electricity production using computer-aided engineering and simulation, which allows us to skip building several generations of physical prototypes. This saves immense time and costs."

Delivering an average Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.03 since installation, under both normal and extreme operational loads via sustained Linpack testing, the SGI HPC system is housed in 40 racks and includes 378 SGI Rackable servers. It features 24,192 Intel Xeon E5-2670 processors providing peak performance of over 500 teraflops, possibly ranking as the 44th most powerful HPC systems in the world based on the June 2012 Top500 list. The system includes 72 terabytes of system memory and 9 petabytes of total storage, all housed in an Eco-logical SGI ICE Cube Air modular data center.

The system is connected via a high performance non-blocking InfiniBand fabric based on Mellanox ConnectX adapters and IS5600 enterprise-class 648-port switches. As part of this agreement, SGI Professional Services provides project management, installation support and training of URS and DOE staff involved in the project.

"SGI is honored to provide the DOE NETL with a complete HPC solution to accelerate the discovery of how to get cleaner and more efficient energy production to meet the current and future demands," said Jorge Titinger, president and CEO of SGI. "To support these initiatives with a data center operating at industry-leading PUE means that the DOE leads by example."

With the deployment of green technologies and the pursuit of energy-efficiency at the heart of the DOE NETL mission, the SGI ICE Cube Air modular data center (MDC) was chosen by URS to achieve the maximum energy efficiency possible for the HPC system deployment. The SGI ICE Cube Air expandable line of modular data centers offer unprecedented cost and energy efficient solutions for the ever-expanding need for more data center space.

As an alternative to brick-and-mortar or co-location sites, SGI ICE Cube Air is ideal for supplementing or replacing traditional data center facilities. Highly efficient fans, along with an innovative four-stage evaporative cooling system, allow the SGI ICE Cube Air to run with outside air and evaporative cooling in most climates, achieving a PUE ratio of 1.06 or less.

Supplemental direct expansion (DX), or chilled-water cooling coils, provide an optional backup cooling system for customers deploying in extreme temperature and humidity environments. Optional heaters are available to enable operation in extreme cold climates. SGI ICE Cube Air uses one percent of the water needed by standard water-chilled containers, and requires only standard potable water from a garden hose.

In addition to research conducted onsite, NETL's project portfolio includes R&D conducted through partnerships, cooperative research and development agreements, financial assistance, and contractual arrangements with universities and the private sector. Together, these efforts focus a wealth of scientific and engineering talent on creating commercially viable solutions to national energy and environmental problems.

"This significant energy project at NETL represents exactly the type of challenging environment that many of our customers find themselves in — the need for the highest performance with little or no impact on energy consumption," said Eyal Waldman, chairman, president and CEO of Mellanox Technologies. "The combination of Mellanox's leading InfiniBand interconnects and SGI's cost and energy efficient modular data center solutions provides end-users such as NETL with superior compute and storage performance and efficiency ."