Red Sky: Supercomputing and Efficiency Meet

The new Red Sky supercomputer as Sandia National Laboratories just debuted as the 10th fastest supercomputer on the Top500 list, with a sustained performance of 429.9 teraflops. Red Sky consists of 68 cabinets of Sun Constellation gear, with up to 96 nodes and 678 cores per rack. Each cabinet  can each require up to 32 kilowatts of energy at full load.

But the system is notable not just for its power, but for its energy efficiency. Red Sky has an estimated Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.035. That’s not a typo – a claimed PUE of 1.035. How is this possible? Red Sky uses the Sun Cooling Door (also known as Project Glacier) designed jointly by Sun Microsystems and Emerson Network Power, which was demonstrated at the SC08 show. The Sun Cooling Door 5600 attaches to the back of cabinets and uses an inert refrigerant gas called R134. The unit is supported by a Liebert XD pumping unit. The passive design that doesn’t require additional fans to circulate air, saving on energy used to power the fans.

Here’s a time-lapse video of the assembly of Red Sky (link via Marc Hamilton). This video runs about 5 minutes.

For more coverage of information about supercomputing, check out our High Performance Computing Channel. For additional video, check out our DCK video archive and the Data Center Videos channel on YouTube.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. Andre

    The claimed PUE of 1.035 for RedSky is unlikely. This seems to be only the internal coolant distribution efficiency but does not include the mechanical cooling nor the chillers. So far I wasn't able to find any more detailed information about RedSky and how this PUE was calculated or measured. Considering the climate in Albuquerque, NM and the lack of large bodies of water indicates that pure free-cooling is unlikely.