Green Supercomputing comes of Age

Who: Dr Wu-chun Feng
Where: Torgersen 2150
When: Friday, Jan 30, 2009, 11:15am-12:15pm


When Green Destiny, a highly energy-efficient supercomputer, debuted in early 2002, the applications community embraced the solution as being revolutionary.  In contrast, the systems community in high-performance computing (HPC) greeted Green Destiny with ridicule and scorn despite having squeezed a 240-node cluster into five square feet and a thermal power envelope of only 3.2 kW (i.e., two hairdryers).  Green Destiny provided reliable supercomputing cycles while sitting in an 85-degree F dusty warehouse at 7,400 square feet above sea level, and it did so without any special facilities, i.e., no cooling, no humidification control, no air filtration, and no ventilation.

In the five years since, power and cooling have finally become first-class design constraints in HPC due to their effect on total cost of ownership as well as efficiency, reliability, and availability (ERA).  Thus, this talk will present the evolution of Green Destiny from an architecturally based low-power approach to a software-based approach that runs on commodity processors.  The talk will then reflect on how such software based techniques might be pushed back down into hardware.