NCBJ has just initiated a series of tender proceedings for delivery of a computing hardware of a total capacity in the order of 500 TFLOPS i.e. 500 billion floating point operations per second. The computer cluster currently under development at NCBJ within the Świerk Computing Centre (CIS) project is going to be a unique computer facility in Poland of a similar power and ranging within the 60 most powerful supercomputers in the world.
"500 TFLOPS is equivalent to a total capacity of more or less 20 thousand of average (i.e. not the cheapest) PCs used in our homes and offices. No institution in Poland has got a similar computing power at their disposal", explained Professor Wojciech Wislicki, the CIS project head. "The new infrastructure will increase our capacity to compute data by more than 25 times, and in that way we will obviously improve availability of the services offered within the CIS project, as well as their scope and range."
The CIS computer cluster developed with the Polish power generation industry and the Polish researchers' needs in mind is currently composed of 1,920 processing cores, 7.5 TB RAM, and 560 TB disk storage. The theoretical performance limit of such an infrastructure is 17.25 TFLOPS. The cluster is predominantly used to test dedicated software and to analyze requirements that must be met to efficiently use such software. The so-far gathered experience is indispensable to reasonably work out terms of tenders for the main part of the infrastructure.
Significance of the fact that the cluster will soon be extended is pointed out also by Professor Grzegorz Wrochna, NCBJ Director General. "The planned purchase is a milestone on the way to develop a proper IT backstage in the programme to construct the first nuclear power plant in Poland. Besides, new computing power will also be an important factor in R&D projects accomplished by our Institute."
The architecture of the planned computing infrastructure purchase has been selected with two factors in mind: the highest possible computing power and a reasonable energy efficiency. Some most modern solutions in cooling, power supply, and disk storage systems will be utilized.
"We have decided to employ a water cooling system as such systems are capable to transfer almost 4,000 times more heat than air-based ones. The technology will allow us to optimize the energy efficiency of our hardware i.e. to dramatically increase available computing power per unit of electric power consumed by the supercomputer", explained M. Eng. Adam Padée, Head of the CIS Computing Infrastructure Division. "Growing demand for computing resources together with huge costs of running large collections of energy-inefficient hardware combine into the challenge of today: to maximize output from every consumed Watt of power rather than to construct at any price a highly efficient computing system."
NCBJ experts estimate that the new water-based hardware cooling system will help to reduce electricity bills by up to 80% as compared to traditional air-based solutions. New-generation energy-efficient processors and an intelligent management system are expected to further reduce infrastructure running costs.