Water-cooled Perfection

Organization: Hewlett-Packard Company, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Co-Developer(s): Nicolas Dube, Principal Developer, Hewlett-Packard Company, Steven Hammond, Principal Developer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Matt Coffey, Brent Henderson, Kevin Regimbal, Mike Sabotta, David Stickinger
Year: 2014

2014 R&D 100 Winner Supercomputing provides the foundation for numerical modeling and simulations, which permit scientists to gain new insights into a range of topics. However, as high-performance computing (HPC) systems scale up by orders of magnitude, constraints on energy consumption and heat dissipation impose limitations on HPC system and the facilities in which they’re housed.

Hewlett-Packard and National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s HP Apollo supercomputing platform approaches HPC from an entirely new perspective as the system is cooled directly with warm water. This is done through a “dry-disconnect” cooling concept that has been implemented with the simple but efficient use of heat pipes. Unlike cooling fans, which are designed for maximum load, the heat pipes can be optimized by administrators. The approach allows significantly greater performance density, cutting energy consumption in half and creating synergies with other building energy systems, relative to a strictly air-cooled system. The warm-water cooling eliminates the need for expensive datacenter chillers and heats the water to 113 F, allowing it to help meet building heating loads.

HP Apollo servers are used to heat office space in its first installation at NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility—R&D Magazine’s 2014 Laboratory of the Year Award winner—which has achieved a power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.06.

Technology Supercomputing platform

Developers Hewlett-Packard National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Development Team

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HP/NREL HP Apollo development team. Pictured in photo: Mike Sabotta, Brent Henderson, David Stickinger, Nic Dube, Steve Hammond, Matt Coffey and Kevin Regimbal.
















The HP Apollo Development Team Nicolas Dube, Principal Developer, Hewlett-Packard Company Steven Hammond, Principal Developer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory Matt Coffey Brent Henderson Kevin Regimbal Mike Sabotta David Stickinger