My first look at the Chemnitz University of Technology “Coffee Table of Doom” at the ISC’13 Student Cluster Challenge really gave me pause. Four very large workstations, crammed to the brim with 16 accelerators (8 Intel Phis, 8 NVIDIA K20s) was something to behold.
My mind flashed with two thoughts. The first was a simple but eloquent, “Holy s**t, that’s a lot of power!” The second was, “Who the hell helped them get this together?”
The answer is MEGWARE, an integrator and manufacturer of HPC systems headquartered in Chemnitz, Germany. The good folks at the company embraced Team Chemnitz like family, supplying them with hardware, training, and plenty of encouragement.
In the video, I spend a few minutes talking with MEGWARE and also getting a look at their take on liquid-cooled servers. We’ve seen a number of liquid cooling designs that place water blocks on CPUs to remove heat. MEGWARE takes this a few steps further by applying blocks to the motherboard ASICS and to each DIMM on the board.
It’s a lot of copper, sure, but covering this many components with water blocks should remove more heat than anything short of immersing the whole kit in a barrel of mineral oil. It’s an interesting approach, and worth investigating.
I’d love to see Team Chemnitz armed with a MEGWARE liquid-cooled cluster at a future competition. This would give the team enough cooling capacity to overclock their CPUs and get perhaps as much as 20% more processing power.
They could also fit water blocks to their vast array of accelerators, removing even more heat from the systems. Overall, they’d be able to cut power requirements while ramping up their throughput – definitely a win-win proposition.