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High Performance Computing (HPC) Data Centre Suite for Cardiff University

30th, March 2016

The new home of Cardiff University’s Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC) at Maindy Park, has had a new purpose built High Performance Computing (HPC) Data Centre designed and built by Workspace Technology.

The £44M centre will play a fundamental role in the future research to better understand and treat neurological and psychiatric conditions such as dementia, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis.

The HPC Data Centre Overview: As part of the huge development by Cardiff University to enhance their researching and compute capability for the CUBRIC, main contractor BAM Construction appointed Workspace Technology, through a vigorous tender process, to design and construct a next generation and energy efficient data centre suite, which will be used exclusively for HPC and Big Data research applications.

Workspace Technology’s High Performance Computing (HPC) data centre suites directly meets the demands required by the University. The HPC facility provides Cardiff University access to substantial computing resource to ensure that the CUBRIC has capability to perform crucial complex analytical ‘Big Data’ research.

HPC server environments generate more heat and consume more power than a traditional rack mount server environment. As well as HPC rack densities, HPC data centre managers face additional challenges such as airflow control and space allocation, therefore Workspace Technology had to provide a HPC specific strategy to ensure the robust, seem-less and future proofed deployment of HPC equipment. With a precise focus on power architecture, cooling infrastructure and space design, Workspace Technology were able to deliver a turnkey high rack density HPC solution (+30kW per rack) that would not only perform effectively and efficiently, but also allow for scalable system growth due to the IT Infrastructure’s modularity design.

High Density Rack Cooling using InRow and Flexaisle® Systems: Workspace Technology installed Schneider Electric’s latest generation High Efficiency Chilled Water Based InRow Cooling Technology within Workspace Technology’s Flexaisle® Hot Aisle Containment (HAC) system purpose built bespoke energy efficient cooling solution.

Based on the principle of moving the cooling unit closer to the source of heat generation, InRow computer room air conditioning technology provides energy efficient cooling for HPC environments. The InRow cooling system closely couples the cooling with the IT heat load preventing hot air recirculation while improving cooling predictability.

The InRow Computer Room Air Conditioning System is placed in line with server equipment racks and air is drawn in through the rear of the unit, cooled, and discharged into the cold aisle where electronic equipment air inlets are located. The use of InRow cooling combined with hot aisle containment helps neutralise the impact of high density HPC racks.

Benefits of Workspace Technology’s Proposed InRow Cooling Solution for the University include:

  • Modular design provides scalable solutions to add cooling as demand increases
  • Automated variable speed fans to reduce energy consumption during off-peak cooling periods and eliminate ‘hot spots’
  • Hot swappable fans allow unit to remain operational if a fan replacement is required
  • Dual A-B Power Inputs - Draws power from the UPS for power protection with dual feeds for redundancy
  • Active response controls - Monitors and actively adjusts cooling capacity to ensure proper server inlet temperatures
  • Real-Time Capacity Monitoring - Real-time display of current and available cooling
  • Building management system integration - Send alarms and data points allowing you to manage critical building infrastructure from a single system.
Data Centre Infrastructure Solution: Other than the specialist InRow cooling solution detailed previously, Workspace Technology also designed, built and installed all the additional supporting data centre infrastructure for the CUBRIC HPC suite.
  • Schneider Electric Switchgear
  • Critical Power Distribution Units
  • Schneider Electric PM750 Meters
  • Modular 294VA/kW UPS Systems
  • Anti-Static Raised Access Flooring
  • VESDA Fire Suppression System
  • APC Server Racks/Cabinets
  • Power Distribution Units (PDUs)
  • StruxureWare DCIM Software
  • Netbotz Monitoring Systems

Nick Roberts, Education Sector Account Manager, commented “Workspace Technology were able to offer the main contractor BAM Construction specialist skills and experience to provide turn-key data centre design and build services, essential when Cardiff University had requested a data centre specialist must be utilised. Workspace is familiar with working with main contractors and can fulfil the quality, environmental and health & safely mandatory requirements.”

For more information about our High Performance Computing (HPC) Data Centre Solutions please contact Nick Roberts, Education Sector Account Manager at or call 0121 354 4894.

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