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Meet the Power 775

New Power 775 delivers super high performance and availability

Water-Cooled Wonder
The Power 775

Dubbed a “data center in a rack,” the newly announced Power Systems* 775 server features a departure from the rest of the POWER7* family. The high-performance supercomputer is water cooled.

“IBM builds the best capability computing in the world and the Power* 775 is really an entire data center in a single rack,” says Ed Seminaro, IBM Fellow and chief hardware architect for the Power 775. “It includes all of the processing, storage and switching required in the environment, along with high-quality cooling and power conditioning in one rack. One Power 775 rack is equivalent to 20 racks of today’s IT hardware plus the computer-floor power and cooling conditioning equipment in one cabinet, so you can replace approximately 100,000 pounds of hardware with 7,000 pounds in one rack.”

Water Cooled

Water is almost always present in data centers, and the water-cooled Power 775 eliminates room air conditioning coils and fans by directly tying into a building’s cooling water system.

The Power 775's construction translates into enormous savings—up to 30 percent of the energy needed to cool a data center. Customers building new data centers can eliminate air-conditioning space with the Power 775.

“The Power 775 integration is unparalleled in the market today. This supercomputer also comes as a completely assembled unit, so setup time is surprisingly small,” Seminaro says. “And with incredibly high levels of performance, the interconnect bandwidth numbers for the Power 775 are 10 times to 100 times higher than other systems.”

With high bandwidth interconnect in place, the Power 775 allows customers with demanding applications to perform computing in new ways. The server features 94 teraflops of performance in one rack—unequalled integration. And, backed by POWER* technology, it also has the key features of availability and reliability.

“We’ve been pushing in this direction for some time. POWER6* technology was tightly packed and well integrated, but the Power 775 takes computing to a new level with 12 times more compute density than POWER6,” Seminaro says. “It’s also completely impossible with today’s electronics to do this without being water cooled.”

1 Power 775 rack = 20 racks of today’s IT hardware, plus the computer-floor power and cooling conditioning equipment in one cabinet.

High Productivity Supercomputing

Although the Power 775 relies on the POWER7 general-purpose processor chip, the hub controllers are proprietary devices that transform this processor into an elite supercomputer. The Power 775 hub module contains 40 10-Gbps optical links along with 11 high-speed copper links, and delivers more than 1.1 terabytes per second of bandwidth. A hub connects each POWER7 quad-chip processor module (QCM), with up to 16,383 other POWER7 drawer QCMs.

A hub module and a POWER7 QCM form a basic building block for the P775 called an octant, based on having eight of these building blocks in one P775 drawer. Up to 2,048 drawers can interconnect in a single supercomputing system.

In developing the Power 775, IBM’s goal was to understand human behavior with parallel systems—particularly parallel programming—with an eye to improving programmers’ work with tools. Additionally, this needed to be measured from a baseline of 2002 equipment and competencies.

IBM researchers approached this problem in several ways, including fieldwork, empirical studies and complexity metrics. In 2005, researchers collected data from Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) and within IBM. And in 2007, researchers collected data from the Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Center for Scientific Computing.

Tech Specs

The Power Systems* 775 45 nm hub chip measures 582 square millimeters and includes a 3.0 GHz internal 56x56 crossbar switch with integrated routing. The 61-by-95.5 mm module has 90 layers and contains connections for 672 10-Gbps optical transmitters or receivers.

In 2005, working with PSC, IBM conducted a study with student programmers comparing language uptake and effectiveness. The three languages were C+MPI, UPC and X10. Researchers then established the 2002 baseline for comparison with new tools.

As part of the Power 775 team, IBM engineers developed software to make high-performance programs easier to develop and maintain. The goal was to reduce the barriers to entry into parallel development, and bring the look and feel from commercial development environments into the realm of high-performance programming.

7,000 pounds of hardware in one rack can replace approximately 100,000 pounds of current hardware.

A Powerful Future

The Power 775 shares Watson’s POWER7 DNA and will accelerate high-performance computing innovation in smarter-computing projects such as climate prediction, medical and life sciences, financial services, petroleum reservoir modeling, and industrial design.

One such immediate example is the more than half of all government weather-forecasting organizations that rely on Power platforms, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S., and the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, a U.K.-based organization supported by 33 countries.

“Power is the No. 1 platform in the world for weather forecasting,” Alpers says. “Weather is a huge application and government agencies can’t miss a forecast because it puts lives at risk.”

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about DARPA:

Tom Brandes is a freelance writer for variety of subjects, including technology, healthcare, manufacturing, sustainability and more.



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