UB's Super Computers Go Green

Published 8/31/12 - Updated May 16, 2013

UB & NYSERDA: Environmental Leadership

In the world of supercomputers, practical considerations like energy consumption have traditionally been overshadowed by the emphasis on compute performance. But as energy costs have increased, staff at the University at Buffalo's Center for Computational Research (CCR), in partnership with NYSERDA, have found a way to do more cutting edge science while consuming less power.

Thanks to three grants from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), energy-efficiency upgrades to CCR will realize energy savings of approximately $150,000 per year, while boosting the Center's total capacity by more than 100%.

The first two phases of the project involved purchasing newer, lower power servers to replace the older less efficient machines currently in production.  With technology always improving, CCR was able to purchase faster machines that use less power and create less heat which combine to lower electricity and cooling bills of the Center.

The third phase of the project involved the installation of new water cooled server racks.  Providing chilled air directly to the machines that most need it, CCR can save money by reducing the inefficiency of cooling it's entire 4,000 sq ft machine room.

The first phase of this project has been featured in an Intel case study which can be viewed on their website or downloaded as a PDF.  A paper describing the all of CCR's datacenter efficiency efforts, including CFD studies of the center's air flow can be downloaded as a PDF here.

An up-to-the-minute measurement of the program's energy savings is presented below.