Japanese Supercomputer Enjoys Boost from Cooling Fluid

Nov 25, 2013

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The TSUBAME supercomputer from Japan's Global Scientific Information and Computing Centre has long been one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world.  What's more, the research and development conducted at the centre has enabled Japan to be very influential in multiple areas, ranging from technical education to computer-based enterprise.  So what are the chances of TSUBAME being improved upon? Pretty good, especially if you run a company specialising in cooling fluids for data centres.  Such is the case for Green Revolution Cooling, an American based technology company that improved the performance of TSUBAME by submerging its multiple CPUs and GPUs in its revolutionary cooling liquid. The computer, dubbed the TSUBAME-KFC, uses two Intel Xeon E5 processors and K20 Kepler GPUs from NVIDIA. By submerging the system in the speciality cooling fluid, the researchers were able to improve the 1.0 Gflop per watt performance of TSUBAME 2.0 to 4.5 Gflop. That makes the supercomputer the most powerful of all supercomputers. What makes this breakthrough so important is the fact that the power and cooling needs of supercomputers goes well beyond that normally used by the average data centre.  Increasing output more than four times, without significantly increasing power consumption, opens the door to more practical uses of supercomputers in the future. The Tokyo Institute of Technology is now touting this research breakthrough as yet another reason why Japan leads the world in supercomputer research.  The TSUBAME 2.5 is poised to play a major role in computer education, advanced computer simulation, further research & development and competitions designed to breed future computer technology experts from within Japanese schools. We should expect to see Japan design and build better versions of the TSUBAME in years to come.  As for where the architecture will take us, there is no way to know however it is easy to assume that things can only get better from here.

Data Centre Applications

The technology advancements afforded by TSUBAME have great potential for the data centre and collocation market too.  If you think of it in terms of cloud computing and on-demand Internet, those benefits should be obvious.  A supercomputer capable of exponentially greater computations could increase both data transfer speeds and data crunching capabilities. Those of us in the business already know that hardware is not keeping pace with software and theoretical advancements. We know there is so much more that could be done if we had equipment fast enough and powerful enough to keep up with the data. That's the promise TSUBAME holds. Imagine being able to design and build a supercomputer at every data centre.  Imagine the possibilities for hosting large-scale computer systems that would dwarf even the largest mainframes of decades past.  Imagine the potential for high-speed data transfers, entire systems existing in a virtual environment and clouds that would span the entire globe.


There is an old American baseball movie with a famous line that says, “If you build it, they will come.”  We think it applies to supercomputing as well.