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U.S. to Use Climate to Help Cool Exascale Systems

Computerworld (02/08/12) Patrick Thibodeau

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Berkeley Lab has started building a computing center that will one day hold exascale systems. DOE recently gave Congress a report outlining a plan to deliver exascale computing by 2019-2020 and its expected cost. Berkeley’s Computational Research and Theory (CRT) facility will use outside air cooling, relying on the Bay Area’s cool temperatures to meet its needs about 95 percent of the time, says CRT’s Katherine Yelick. The evaporative cooling method involves hot water being transported into a tower where evaporation helps it cool. The 140,000-square-foot building, expected to be ready in 2014, will enable Berkeley Lab to combine offices that are split between two sites, and it will be large enough to house two supercomputers, including exascale-sized systems. The exascale system will be able to reach 1 quintillion floating point operations per second. The Berkeley facility “is very representative of what we have that’s best in the United States in research, in innovation,” says DOE secretary Steve Chu. He notes that computation will be “a key element in helping further the innovation and the industrial competitiveness of the United States.”

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