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University of St Andrews Deploys Freecool® for HPC Deployment

2nd, May 2011

The University of St Andrews is Scotland’s oldest university and the 3rd oldest in the English speaking world. It has established a reputation as one of Europe’s most distinctive centres for teaching and research.

Client Situation

St Andrews University School of Mathematics and Statistics, together with the School of Physics and Astronomy were seeking to enhance their activity through the acquisition of a High Performance Computing Facility. Workspace Technology installed FreeCool® its innovative evaporative fresh air free cooling technology in partnership with Bull Information Systems HPC division.

Design and Build

Unlike normal computing systems HPC technology requires a significant amount of power to support its high performance processing capability used to undertake complex computations. Typical rack power densities range from 20kW to 30kW.

Bull Information Systems offered a 5 rack computational cluster which would generate between 60kW and 85kW under peak operating conditions. This represented a significant heat density within a very small footprint. The current trend for HPC cooling is based on rear rack chilled water technology. When combined with free to air dry coolers typically these systems will deliver a PUE* of approx 1.3.

Workspace Technology in partnership with Bull Information Systems agreed that the installation of FreeCool® adiabatic evaporative free cooling technology would deliver St Andrews a significant energy performance advantage.

The St Andrews design was based on 4 x 30kW capacity evaporative cooling FreeCool® units and a custom designed ducting system to deliver flow and return air. The FreeCool® unique atemperation system was included in the design allowing for hot air re-circulation to help re-heat cold air during cooler periods.

* Power Usage Effectiveness is the industry recognised standard for data centre room efficiency measurement introduced by the Green Grid.

Workspace Technology delivered a complete design and build installation inclusive of all ducting, mechanical systems, building, and electrical installation works. A PLC controller delivers full system control. In addition to the evaporative fresh air cooling FreeCool® Workspace Technology deployed it’s FlexAisle® aisle containment system which ensures 100% of cold air is delivered to equipment inlets.

St Andrews University Airflow Arrangements

Following the successful system commissioning the PUE was measured at an exceptional 1.05. Calculated as follows:-

Total Facility Power             =          89kW               =          1.05

Total Critical Power                         80kW

Temperature and pressure controlled variable speed inverter driven fans enable the FreeCool® system to speed up and slow down inline with the cooling demands of the HPC cluster. This enables the PUE average to remain under 1.1 across a range of operating conditions.

This installation demonstrates the versatility of Workspace Technology’s FreeCool® technology and we are proud to deliver industry leading PUE figures.

Workspace Technology provides expert energy efficient data centre, server and communications room solutions and services for corporate and public sector clients across the UK. For further information please contact the Sales and Technical Manager Roy Griffiths at 0121 354 4894.

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