Designing buildings for the fastest computers on Earth

EYP Mission Critical Facilities, Albany, N.Y., has been selected as the lead design firm for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications' (NCSA) new petascale computing building at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. This facility will be home to the world's most powerful “leadership-class” supercomputer, supported by Track 1 supercomputer funding from the Nation...
By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff February 1, 2008

EYP Mission Critical Facilities, Albany, N.Y., has been selected as the lead design firm for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications’ (NCSA) new petascale computing building at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. This facility will be home to the world’s most powerful “leadership-class” supercomputer, supported by Track 1 supercomputer funding from the National Science Foundation. This “petascale” system is expected to make arithmetic calculations at a sustained rate in excess of an amazing 1,000-trillion operations per second (a petaFLOP per second). The supercomputer, called “Blue Waters,” will be 500 times more powerful than today’s typical supercomputer. Expected to go online in 2011, the system may be used to study complex processes like the interaction of the Sun’s coronal mass ejections with the Earth’s magnetosphere and ionosphere; the formation and evolution of galaxies in the early universe; and understanding the chains of reactions that occur with living cells.

In 2007, EYP MCF furthered its best-in-class HPC and research computing facility planning and design experience with additional engagements at Argonne National Laboratory, Indiana University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. EYP MCF provided technology planning and engineering design services for the power and cooling infrastructure supporting these high-density supercomputer installations.

How fast are these HPC systems? At Argonne National Laboratory, one of the two computers to be installed is a 445- teraFLOP system that can perform 445 trillion calculations per second, which means to match that speed every one of the 6 billion people on Earth would need to perform 70,000 calculations per second. EYP MCF participated on a design-build team that delivered the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, which houses the supercomputing system.

For Indiana University, EYP MCF provided programming and design services for IU’s new 82,700-sq.-ft data center building, which broke ground on Oct. 12 and will house not only IU’s supercomputer, but also critical academic and administrative technology infrastructure.