‘Olympus’ supercomputer targets energy breakthroughs, with help from some water

Pacific Northwest National Lab's new Olympus supercomputer (PNNL Photo)

The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., now has its own supercomputer, named Olympus, after the tallest mountain in Washington state’s Olympic range. The supercomputer has a peak speed of 162 teraflops — providing about as much computing capacity as 20,000 personal computers combined.

Photo Credit: PNNL

One unique feature: A water cooling system that absorbs heat using about 70 percent less energy than traditional air conditioning. That’s appropriate, because the machine is being used in part for research into new energy technologies, including next-generation power grids and batteries.

PNNL says it’s the first large-scale computer dedicated exclusively to its scientists, who previously purchased smaller individual systems for their projects. The lab paid $4.4 million for the machine, using its internal computing budget, in addition to funds from projects that will make use of the supercomputer.

It’s part of the PNNL’s new Institutional Computing Program. The hardware was provided by Atipa Technologies. Kevin Regimbal, director of the Institutional Computing Program, tells us via phone that the operating system installed by the lab is Linux-based.  Here’s the full rundown on the supercomputer’s specs, via this PNNL summary.

  • Theoretical peak processing speed of 162 Teraflops, meaning Olympus can complete computations as fast as about 20,000 typical personal computers combined.
  • 80 Gigabytes per second of disk bandwidth, meaning it can read and write information to a disk about 800 times faster than a typical personal computer.
  • 38.7 Terabytes of total memory, equaling the memory of about 10,000 typical personal computers combined.
  • 4 Petabytes of total disk space provided by Advanced HPC. The system’s disk space is the same as about 4,000 typical personal computers or 80,000 standard DVDs combined.
  • 604 computer nodes provided by Atipa, including 1,200 dual AMD Interlagos 16-core processors
  • About 3.75 miles of interconnect cable provided by Atipa, including a 648-port QLogic core switch
  • Motivair Chilled Door rear-door rack cooling system
  • A graphic processing unit (GPU) testbed of 32 nodes, with each node consisting of a dual AMD Interlagos 16-core processor running at 2.1 Ghz, 64 Gigabytes of memory, 1 Terabyte of local disk space, a Quad Data Rate InfiniBand network and one NVIDIA Tesla M2090 GPU.