Academic Supercomputing at Research I Institutions

RJ Tee
August 11, 2021

academic-supercomputing-at-research-i-institutions -

Originally published on August 11th, 2021. Edited by Michael Milnes on September 22nd, 2021.

Academia’s advanced research requires plenty of compute power, and the increased complexity of the experimentation requires an increased level of performance. The performance of supercomputers – or High-Performance Computing (HPC) – is at the top of the list of Research 1 Universities’ data center managers’ concerns.

Powering these powerful computers tests the electrical infrastructure of many of these universities’ data centers. Nowhere are these concerns more evident than at the rack level. At one time, 30kW per rack was remarkable. Today, racks with 50-to-70 kW are the norm. This evolution brought the need for higher density outlets that offer higher instantaneous power. Part 2 of this series will cover how HPC has evolved.

What hasn’t changed is the need to obtain the specific PDU for your unique situation as quickly as possible. These specific needs often include:

  • High-density power distribution units are required to match both the increased load requirements of these computer systems, as well as the sheer number of power cords feeding into a single rack. The Server Technology HDOT PDU ships with 36 to 54 outlets per strip; that’s at least 25% more than other units on the market. This increase in outlets allows users to match the high cord counts that come with the demands of a Research I installation.
  • Flexibility is critical when considering receptacle types and voltages supported. A single node within an HPC rack can have three or more receptacles and any number of plug types that aren’t known until the unit is shipped. Therefore, the importance of having multiple plug types available is vital. Taking care of the possible outlet issue assures that project is not delayed due to a plug looking for a home. Server Technology’s HDOT Cx is a hybrid of the standard C13 and C19 outlets that accommodate both C20 and C14 plugs in a single outlet. If future equipment is of a different voltage, no worries. Server Technology can support multiple voltages, from 110 to 415VAC.
  • Switched architecture allows the user to turn the power on or off on a per outlet basis. This feature enables the easy, remote management of batch processing applications without rebooting and power sequencing issues. In addition, controlling power at the outlet level gives the system administrator the ability to schedule power savings during off-hours or between scheduled projects.

Part 3 of this series will expand on the challenges of HPC as it continues to evolve. 

Each component of the power chain, from the building entrance to the rack power distribution, is crucial to enabling equipment availability. Today’s rack-mounted PDUs pack in more density, flexibility, and intelligence to effectively deliver required HPC power. While also providing visibility into rack-power environmental conditions, so the entire computing chain remains unbroken. Part 4 will provide some specific applications Server Technology’s rack PDUs have been used for in Research I academic institutions. 

Curious about Server Technology’s higher education offer? Learn more about the high-performance computing needs of our education customers by going to our higher education solutions page. Or, to try your hand at putting density and flexibility to work for you, head to our build your own PDU tool to create a tailored solution for your HPC cluster.

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