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Low Energy Supercomputing

samzenpus posted about 4 years ago | from the on-a-dime dept.

Supercomputing 159

Faith Singer at TACC writes "The term 'supercomputing' usually evokes images of large, expensive computer systems that calculate unfathomable algorithms and run on enough energy to support a small city. Now, imagine a supercomputer, but run on the electrical equivalent of three standard-size coffee-makers. This year's international supercomputing conference, SC10, will feature the Student Cluster Competition that challenges students to build, maintain, and run the most-cutting edge, commercially available high-performance computing (HPC) architectures on just 26 amps."

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Amps = current, not energy.... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373084)

Amps = current, not energy....

Re:Amps = current, not energy.... (5, Informative)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | about 4 years ago | (#33373144)

Assuming P=IV, RMS, and in-phase:

P = (26 A)(100E6 V) = 2.6GW, more than twice the amount of power required to travel from 1985 to 1955 or vice versa.

And energy is measured in joules, not amperes...

Times voltage times session time (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#33373260)

Current * voltage = power. In the United States, alternating current from the wall is nominally 115 volts, and 115 V * 26 A = 2990 W. So I think the actual figure was supposed to be 3 kW of power. Run this for one eight-hour day* for 24 kJ of energy per session.

* This can be business hours (if interactive) or the most efficient cooling hours (if batch).

Re:Times voltage times session time (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 4 years ago | (#33373430)

Any hour is an efficient cooling hour if you're using geothermal for cooling your cluster ;)

Re:Times voltage times session time (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373432)

That's stupid.
1) Engineering doesn't work with assumptions. Maybe in the cloud-cuckoo land of software morons, you can get away with being inaccurate, abstracted and just basically wrong and call it a feature.
2) How do you know the efficiency of the power supply? How much power is that? At the load?
3) Why can't it be 26A at 3.3V on the PCB board?
4) Power still isn't energy, doofus.

You're a programmer, right? Only programmers are allowed to be wrong all the time. Make one mistake in hardware, and you'll get heat. Make ten thousand mistakes in software, eh, people shrug their shoulders.

Re:Times voltage times session time (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373576)

Troll? Truth hurts, eh software creeps?

Re:Times voltage times session time (1)

digitalunity (19107) | about 4 years ago | (#33373664)

Mod AC up. Without a power factor, there's no way to determine the actual wattage consumed knowing just the RMS voltage and current.

26 amps at 110V 1 phase is a lot different than say 26 amps at 7200V 3 phase. The summary at least is pretty non-specific, although the article that I didn't fucking read probably was a tad more specific.

Re:Times voltage times session time (2, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 4 years ago | (#33374842)

How many computers do you know that plug into 7200V 3-phase outlets? It's pretty standard when plugging computers into power-limited circuits to measure the allocated power by amperage. That's how power allocations are quoted at colocation facilities, for example: you rent a rack with a 20-amp circuit, or with a 30-amp circuit, or whatever. Unless stated otherwise, in North America it's implied that the circuit is at 110-V.

Re:Times voltage times session time (1)

Hylandr (813770) | about 4 years ago | (#33373670)

Say that to an owner of a Toyota...

- Dan.

Re:Times voltage times session time (2, Insightful)

ichthus (72442) | about 4 years ago | (#33374446)

Only programmers are allowed to be wrong all the time. Make one mistake in hardware, and you'll get heat. Make ten thousand mistakes in software, eh, people shrug their shoulders.

*Cough* Um, unless you're an embedded programmer. Then, you're expected to fix hardware guy's mistakes by making changes to the firmware.

Re:Times voltage times session time (1)

saider (177166) | about 4 years ago | (#33373636)

Energy from the wall can be one of several voltages. 120V or 240V for single phase or 440V for three phase power, all of which are available in your typical commercial building.

Re:Times voltage times session time (2, Interesting)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 4 years ago | (#33373824)

I seem to recall my PDP11 required 26A on each of 3 phases at 415 volts to power-up, and it had 1Mb or core memory.

And nominally, all the power of a 486! (Actually, it supported 12 users doing data entry.) Not what I called a super computer, even then.

I think my phone outperforms it in proportion to its 16G or memory: 12,000 times more powerful - Now THAT is what I call a super computer!

Re:Amps = current, not energy.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373272)

Exactly. The unit of energy is Joules. How can someone working at TACC not know such a fundamental thing?

Re:Amps = current, not energy.... (2, Insightful)

31415926535897 (702314) | about 4 years ago | (#33373296)

You have variable voltage outlets?

Re:Amps = current, not energy.... (1)

PitaBred (632671) | about 4 years ago | (#33373526)

If you're very careful, you can with a 240V outlet, at least the way we do things in the US.

Re:Amps = current, not energy.... (1)

Zerth (26112) | about 4 years ago | (#33373700)

You have variable voltage outlets?

It's an amazing feature my power company provides. That alternating sag/surge/sag/surge really shows management why they can't slash my power conditioner/UPS budget.

Re:Amps = current, not energy.... (2, Funny)

tool462 (677306) | about 4 years ago | (#33374040)

Mine's always alternating...

Re:Amps = current, not energy.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33374070)

You have variable voltage outlets?

Yep -- Changes about 60 times per second. They even reverse the voltage half the time so the net voltage is 0. (My lights are energy free! ;-)

Re:Amps = current, not energy.... (1)

fritsd (924429) | about 4 years ago | (#33374862)

Standardization is for wimps, and goes against the freedom to innovate (by forcing everyone to buy my newest voltage outlet).
Oops forgot the <sarcasm> tag again.

Re:Amps = current, not energy.... (1)

micksam7 (1026240) | about 4 years ago | (#33373408)

It makes me wonder if they can get away with running on a higher voltage for more power..

Re:Amps = current, not energy.... (1)

boneclinkz (1284458) | about 4 years ago | (#33373410)

About how many amps can I get out of a standard 24oz. can of Mango-flavored Monster Energy drink (with taurine)?

Re:Amps = current, not energy.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373448)

About how many amps can I get out of a standard 24oz. can of Mango-flavored Monster Energy drink (with taurine)?

How many amps can you get from a failed joke?

Re:Amps = current, not energy.... (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#33373528)

This year's international supercomputing conference, SC10, will feature the Student Cluster Competition that challenges students to build, maintain, and run the most-cutting edge, commercially available high-performance computing (HPC) architectures on just 26 amps of energy.

Hey, don't tell them that an ampre isn't a measure of energy, because then I wouldn't be able to enter my 46.54 million volt computer (x 26 amps = 1.21 Gigawatts total power dissipation).

Re:Amps = current, not energy.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373840)

Next you'll say that I don't actually weigh 26 miles per hour or that I didn't do the Kessel Run in in less than 12 parsecs.

Re:Amps = current, not energy.... (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33374328)

Loophole.

Give me those amps at 130 KV, please.

I'll supply the step-down transformer.

Sure Thing! (4, Insightful)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | about 4 years ago | (#33373096)

Can I use as many volts as I'd like?

Re:Sure Thing! (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 4 years ago | (#33373264)

Can I use as many volts as I'd like?

Inquiring minds want to know! Lets see, the most we could probably get into the building is 32KV, at 26 amps on a 3 phase line we can use 2.4 MW before crossing their limit. That should be enough for a little bit of supercomputing.

Re:Sure Thing! (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 4 years ago | (#33374322)

Am I allowed to use a transformer to boost the voltage before it gets counted as 26 amps?

Re:Sure Thing! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33374952)

I was part of Purdue University's team last year. No, you don't get 240V power like in a proper machine room. You don't even really get 120V all that well, at least on the mediocre power system at the conference center we were at. With the load we had, voltage dropped to around 100V, and so current accordingly rocketed up and we had to scale back in order to avoid tripping the breaker.

Energy? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373106)

Power is now called energy, and is measured in amps? No one told me...

Mmm... caffeine. (5, Funny)

operagost (62405) | about 4 years ago | (#33373110)

I don't know about computers, but you can get a lot of productivity out of humans with the power produced from three coffeemakers.

Re:Mmm... caffeine. (0, Redundant)

RebootKid (712142) | about 4 years ago | (#33373310)

Oh for mod points

Re:Mmm... caffeine. (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33374354)

Coincidentally, the number of coffeemakers on this floor is...three.

Amps? [pedant] (3, Insightful)

MessyBlob (1191033) | about 4 years ago | (#33373114)

Try Joules (in context as a total), or watts (as a measure per unit time).

I hope they're smarter than the article writer (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about 4 years ago | (#33373116)

"The competition challenges students to build, maintain, and run a cutting edge, commercially available HPC architecture on just 26 amps of energy."

Only problem is that the Ampere is a unit of CURRENT, not energy. It's like saying someone weighs 686 Newtons.

While I understand that if the voltage is kept the same, then the amps are proportional to the energy involved per unit time because W = V x A. However 26 amps at 120 volts for 1 second is not the same energy as 26 amps at 5 million volts for 20 years.

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (1, Redundant)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#33373292)

Only problem is that the Ampere is a unit of CURRENT, not energy. It's like saying someone weighs 686 Newtons.

Wait... what? Newtons are a unit of force, weight is force due to gravity. Maybe you meant that it's like saying something weighs X kg or something masses X Newtons?

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373928)

newton = (kg*m)/s^2. You are agreeing with him.

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (1)

Kagura (843695) | about 4 years ago | (#33375034)

I would rather say that MozeeToby is completely missing the intent of the OP Dunbal.

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373300)

It's like saying someone weighs 686 Newtons.

Actually that is perfectly fine, it is more like saying someone weighs 80 kilograms.

(Newtons measure force, weight is a force, kilograms measure mass.)

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (3, Informative)

radtea (464814) | about 4 years ago | (#33373362)

It's like saying someone weighs 686 Newtons.

Nope, because that would be correct (other than capitalization). Newtons are a unit of force, and weight is the force of gravity on a thing.

It's not even like saying someone weights 100 kg, which is conventional but wrong: weight is not mass, weight is mass*acceleration.

It's more like saying someone weights 150 m/s. That is, it makes no sense whatsoever without supplying some additional information. If I had an instrument that accelerated objects under a constant force for a fixed time I could get a value in m/s that would allow me to compute the weight if I had the force and the time, in the same way it would be possible to get the energy from the amperage if you had the voltage and the time.

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 4 years ago | (#33375160)

It's more like saying someone's mass is 686 N. You can guess the correct answer if you make a reasonable assumption, but the statement's wrong. (As a minor difference, the acceleration due to gravity is much less variable than the voltage supplied to electrical devices.)

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (1)

fjgumby (113015) | about 4 years ago | (#33373374)

Only problem is that the Ampere is a unit of CURRENT, not energy. It's like saying someone weighs 686 Newtons

The first sentence is correct. However! Newtons are in fact the pedantically-correct unit for weight. 686 Newtons = 154 pounds force, which is a perfectly reasonable weight for a person in Earth-standard gravity.

(The person in question would have a mass of 70 kilograms, independent of local gravitational conditions.)

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373532)

>>686 Newtons = 154 pounds force, which is a perfectly reasonable weight for a person in Earth-standard gravity.

But not a perfectly reasonable weight for the average SlashDot reader.

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373388)

The only problem with your analogy is that in physics, Newtons are actually a unit for weight (while kg is a unit for mass).

        Weight = mass x gravitational acceleration.

Otherwise I agree. However, one can deduce what the author (mistaken though he is) meant when he quoted the 26 A figure. In the U.S., consumers get 110V/60Hz power out of the wall. Make all the usual assumptions, we can calculate the power:

      P = V*I = 110*26 = 2860 W = 2.86 kJ/s

To calculate the energy used in 1 hour:

      E = Pt = 2.86 kJ/s * 3600 s/hr * 1 hr = 10,296 kJ = 10.296 MJ

Which is about 9.7 million Btu's.

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about 4 years ago | (#33373626)

The only problem with your analogy is that in physics, Newtons are actually a unit for weight

      You're right and I saw that after I hit the submit button. It would work better had I said mass :)

      As for the power source - my home computer's power supply provides 24 volts to the motherboard. My laptop uses 19 volts. Potential at the plug socket is not necessarily the potential that is used by the machine. Especially since electronics usually convert AC to DC and use DC in their circuits. Therefore I would argue that your "assumption" is incorrect - there's no way to know what voltage they plan on using. It can't be that hard to imagine 240V or even 550V for an "industrial strength" supercomputer. Why assume 110V?

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (2, Informative)

Americium (1343605) | about 4 years ago | (#33374310)

Why assume 110V?

Because as stated before, 110 times 26 ~ 3 kW. And a coffee maker is about 1 kW, so three coffee makers is 3 kW, in agreement with the summary.

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (3, Insightful)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | about 4 years ago | (#33373584)

Yup. Just to add some international touch to it: here in central Europe we have 240-250V outlets, which is radically different from the U.S., so putting amperage even with implied voltage is at least confusing and entirely unscientific and shows a lack of understanding about even the most basic principles of unit notations.

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373930)

Yup. Just to add some international touch to it: here in central Europe we have 240-250V outlets, which is radically different from the U.S., so putting amperage even with implied voltage is at least confusing and entirely unscientific and shows a lack of understanding about even the most basic principles of unit notations.

No, it just means they never heard of other countries (and their stinkin power systems).

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 4 years ago | (#33375148)

Yup. Just to add some international touch to it: here in central Europe we have 240-250V outlets, which is radically different from the U.S., so putting amperage even with implied voltage is at least confusing and entirely unscientific and shows a lack of understanding about even the most basic principles of unit notations.

Even just in the US, its common to have both 110V and 220V (or is it 120V and 240V? I've seen both numbers used and I remember once reading why, but I don't remember and its mostly irrelevant here), with 110V being typical for most uses, but 220V commonly used for large appliances.

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 4 years ago | (#33376056)

Nominal is 120V, with +-6V being considered within tolerance. The 240V systems are just provided through a pair of 120V lines at opposite voltage.

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (1)

MiniMike (234881) | about 4 years ago | (#33373810)

It's like saying someone weighs 686 Newtons.

I just felt a disturbance, as if a million swooshes went by at once...

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33374758)

Actually, saying they weigh 686 Newtons is correct. Measuring that weight on the surface of the Earth means they have a mass of (approximately) 69 kg. Ah the fun that can be had with weight and mass.

Re:I hope they're smarter than the article writer (1)

mcrbids (148650) | about 4 years ago | (#33375766)

It's like saying someone weighs 686 Newtons.

Well, a newton is about 0.53 grams (30 Newtons per 16 oz package) so 686 Newtons would be (686 * 0.53)/16 ~ 23 pounds? It's kinda light, but doable for a small child...

What's that? You didn't mean Fig Newtons?

(sigh)

Give them Watts, not Amps. (0, Redundant)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 4 years ago | (#33373128)

26 amps at 350kV?

Re:Give them Watts, not Amps. (1)

scosco62 (864264) | about 4 years ago | (#33373196)

Yeah, with that, you'd need a really big hamster to turn that generator.......

Re:Give them Watts, not Amps. (3, Funny)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 4 years ago | (#33373460)

We call him "Mongo"

Re:Give them Watts, not Amps. (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33374370)

Does he like beans?

The bad news... (1)

operagost (62405) | about 4 years ago | (#33373344)

The server applications have to run in JVMs.

Article Doesnt Say (1)

Entropy98 (1340659) | about 4 years ago | (#33373360)

But who thinks theyll be using atoms? I remember reading that Microsoft, and others were looking into clustering them. The current atoms are more powerful than a P4 and use only 13 watts, 18 at 100% cpu.

At 18 watts each and 26 amps at 110 watts thats about 158 atoms.

158 x $100 each = $15800

2.86 kw x 24 x 30 = 2059 kwh

$0.20 (the outrageous price I pay for electricity) x 2059 = $411 a month to run this thing

$0.04 (the price I wish I payed for electricity) x 2059 = $82 (Now thats reasonable!)

--free small codec pack [cnet.com]

Re:Article Doesnt Say (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#33373434)

ARM would get you better performance per watt. Atoms only matter because they're x86.

Beagle Boards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33374140)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these!

sorry, been waiting over a decade to say that...

Re:Article Doesnt Say (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373596)

See, this is why some people are sticklers for grammar, spelling, and capitalization rules. Of course they're using atoms. But are they using Atoms? Your error is needlessly confusing and detracts from your point.

Re:Article Doesnt Say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373628)

$0.04 (the price I wish I payed for electricity) x 2059 = $82 (Now thats reasonable!)

Pick up your computers and move them to Utah! (why do you think Twitter, Facebook, MSFT, etc are going there?) That's how much they pay. $.20/kwh!!! Oh the humanity!

Re:Article Doesnt Say (3, Interesting)

Z_A_Commando (991404) | about 4 years ago | (#33373654)

Having participated in the first of the Student Cluster Challenges at SC07 when I was still in undergrad, I can attest that there's far more to this than what the summary lets on. Not only are you limited to 26 Amps, which is the significant limiting factor, but you're located on the show floor and running your system for 36 hours straight in front of the conference attendees. Moreover, all hardware must be in production and unmodified and fit within a single rack. The Taiwanese team lucked out in this regard as they were using the (then new) 45nm Intel Xeons that were announced the day before the competition started. The only thing you can modify is the code for the programs you have to run (except for the HPC benchmarks).

Some of you might be thinking "pfff...I can stay awake for 36 hours, no problem". That's true, but you're not allowed to be in your booth for more than 12 hours straight and after you leave you must take an 8 hour break. Furthermore, the machines are firewalled from all incoming connections and do not share the same internet connection that the rest of the conference uses.

At SC07, there was a significant power failure on the second day of the competition which brought most teams to their knees. The applications we were running (GAMESS [wikipedia.org] , POP [lanl.gov] , POV-RAY [povray.org] ) are not designed to pick up from a power failure. While the Taiwanese had by far the most powerful system, they couldn't recover from the power failure that had corrupted their SAN in time to win.

To your point, I'm not sure you could get 158 Atoms in a set of off-the-shelf servers that would fit in a single rack to equal a cluster running the latest E series Xeons that perform at top clock but have a lower TDP.

Re:Article Doesnt Say (2, Interesting)

forkazoo (138186) | about 4 years ago | (#33374336)

Having participated in the first of the Student Cluster Challenges at SC07 when I was still in undergrad, I can attest that there's far more to this than what the summary lets on. Not only are you limited to 26 Amps, which is the significant limiting factor, but you're located on the show floor and running your system for 36 hours straight in front of the conference attendees. Moreover, all hardware must be in production and unmodified and fit within a single rack. The Taiwanese team lucked out in this regard as they were using the (then new) 45nm Intel Xeons that were announced the day before the competition started. The only thing you can modify is the code for the programs you have to run (except for the HPC benchmarks).

The "unmodified, in production" seems kind of confusing to me. At that point, it sort of seems like a competition of who can buy the nicest hardware, rather than coming up withs something clever and new. Still, sounds like it would be a fun competition.

And, it seems like the "1 rack" limitation would be hard for most teams to stretch to the limit, with only 3 kW. Does anybody actually get anywhere near filling up the whole rack?

Re:Article Doesnt Say (1)

Z_A_Commando (991404) | about 4 years ago | (#33375066)

The point of the "unmodified, in production" simply means that you have to use off-the-shelf equipment. As the organizers put it, if someone wanted to walk up and buy your cluster, or an exact copy, they should be able to.

You're right that it's hard to fill a full rack, even with 4U servers that use 120mm fans, but I believe Stony Brook came the closest because they were using ULV Xeons. They had 16 servers I think and each was 4U

As far as fun, it was incredible and very stressful

Re:Article Doesnt Say (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#33374444)

Moreover, all hardware must be in production and unmodified

That's an odd requirement. IMO a team that could design and build their own hardware that's more efficient than off the shelf hardware should be encouraged to do so.

Re:Article Doesnt Say (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 years ago | (#33375070)

Especially given in the story that a team with special connections used hardware that wasn't in production two days before.

Re:Article Doesnt Say (1)

Z_A_Commando (991404) | about 4 years ago | (#33375150)

Moreover, all hardware must be in production and unmodified

That's an odd requirement. IMO a team that could design and build their own hardware that's more efficient than off the shelf hardware should be encouraged to do so.

True, but the point of the competition isn't to show off the vendor, or even the hardware; it's to show off how easy it is for undergraduate students, using commodity hardware, to construct and run a cluster that has more computing power than the fastest supercomputers from a decade ago at a fraction of the TCO.

Re:Article Doesnt Say (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 4 years ago | (#33375574)

True, but the point of the competition isn't to show off the vendor, or even the hardware; it's to show off how easy it is for undergraduate students, using commodity hardware, to construct and run a cluster that has more computing power than the fastest supercomputers from a decade ago at a fraction of the TCO.

If that's the goal, then why isn't cost of hardware included as part of the submission criteria? And really, what is "commercial hardware"? If I can cram 36 Pico-ITX store bought motherboards into a 1U storebought case using standard power supply hardware connected with standard off the shelf wire, does that count as commercial off the shelf? Or does "commercial" mean I have to buy a complete pre-built server from an established vendor?

Re:Article Doesnt Say (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | about 4 years ago | (#33373656)

Depending on what you're doing, a Xeon LV would be better; and, again depending on the workload, the 12-core Opterons might win out, too.

Of course, those have higher non-CPU system power requirements, so an Atom's whole-system power requirements might win out.

But, as someone else mentions, ARM has excellent SoC power usage for the performance, so a massive array of ARM A9s could very easily smoke anything else.

High Performance Computing != Supercomputing (0)

captaindomon (870655) | about 4 years ago | (#33373364)

this is a false comparison.

Re:High Performance Computing != Supercomputing (1)

Tynin (634655) | about 4 years ago | (#33373882)

this is a false comparison.

Unfortunately since their is no single accepted definition of what a supercomputer is, it is easy to lump the two together.

algorithms (1)

grub (11606) | about 4 years ago | (#33373368)


unfathomable algorithms

Like the kind they use in ocean tidal research or sea bed topography?

Thank you, thank you! I'll be here all week. Try the buffet.

Units! (0, Redundant)

MiddleHitter (473147) | about 4 years ago | (#33373442)

Amps are units of current.
Volts are units of potential energy.
Watts are units of power.
Joules are units of energy.

I expect better from Slashdot editors; this is absolutely fundamental knowledge for a geek.

Re:Units! (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 4 years ago | (#33373488)

> I expect better from Slashdot editors...

New here, aren't you?

Re:Units! (1)

Ignatius (6850) | about 4 years ago | (#33373650)

If we are into nitpicking, Volt (singular!) is a unit of electric potential (energy/charge); Joule (Volt*Coulomb = Newton*Meter = ...) is a unit of (potential and all other forms of) energy.

Student Energy Units (2, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 years ago | (#33373474)

This is a student project so the correct unit of energy is a "Library of Congress Stacked with Red Bull Instead of Books."

Now, you may convert that into Joules, if you care to.

economic 'recovery' in danger? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33373504)

thank goodness it's just some feloniously constructed phony bologna fairytail #'s scam that's in jeopardy, & not any of us just plain folk, who are not in any more 'danger' than we were yesterday, or will be tomorrow.

meanwhile (& they're hoping it'll be quite a while yet); the (extremely dangerous/fatal) corepirate nazi illuminati is always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their (slippery/slimy) 'platform' now. see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder

never a better time to consult with/trust in our creators. the lights are coming up rapidly all over now. see you there?

greed, fear & ego (in any order) are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of our dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children. not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one, & the terminal damage to our atmosphere (see also: manufactured 'weather', hot etc...). see you on the other side of it? the lights are coming up all over now. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be your guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. we now have some choices. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on your brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

"The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.

At 500,000 volts (1)

exabrial (818005) | about 4 years ago | (#33373512)

And you have might have a typical datacenter...

What are the competition constraints? (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | about 4 years ago | (#33373562)

For example, can they run their allotted current (at nominal AC 120 voltage, one assumes) for a few days to charge a capacitor and/or supercool the equipment in advance of the test?

Well.... (3, Insightful)

jd (1658) | about 4 years ago | (#33373570)

This doesn't sound too difficult. The number one power-consumer is cooling. Distributing the same code over a larger surface area would allow you to reduce just how sophisticated and power-hungry your cooling needs to be. Any SIMD code will distribute just fine over such an architecture. If you're really clever, you'd design the cluster as a series of pentagons and hexagons, allowing you to build a geodesic. This would not only maximize the surface area but would also minimize the distance network traffic has to travel, networking being the biggest cause of latency in supercomputing. The really really clever geeks would then set up additional "regional" networks to allow for much higher performance when handling code that needed to talk much more locally, then distribute the code according to those regions. (Essentially, you then have a cluster of clusters.)

Re:Well.... (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 4 years ago | (#33373912)

cluster as a series of pentagons

I for one, welcome a Beowolf cluster of Pentagons. Yes, Siree!

Re:Well.... (1)

jd (1658) | about 4 years ago | (#33374974)

You never know, the contention for resources might keep them all out of trouble.

The limit is 26 amps @ 120VAC (5, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about 4 years ago | (#33373580)

From the project website (http://sc10.supercomputing.org/?pg=studentcluster_rules.html)

The computational hardware (processors, switch, storage, etc.) must fit into a single rack. All components associated with the system, and access to it, must be powered through the two 120-volt, 20-amp circuits, (each with a soft limit of 13 amps) for a total of 26 amps, provided by the conference. Power to each system will be provided via metered power distribution units The equipment rack must be able to physically hold these metering power strips.

This makes it even harder since theyir hardware has to be power balanced between the two power strips. They'll have to come up with some dynamic load balancing between cluster nodes based on power consumption. I guess dual power supplies might help (do dual power supplies draw perfectly balanced power between both power inputs?), but at a loss of power efficiency.

Repeat post (1)

shermo (1284310) | about 4 years ago | (#33373808)

*Post complaining about amps not being a unit of energy*

*Feeling smug*

*Actually reading thread, then feeling not so smart because 10 people have already mentioned it*

OK, now that the Amps/Watts thing has been sorted, (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 4 years ago | (#33373814)

Let me say that I really, really like this sort of a challenge. 26 Amps at 120V would definitely trip my home's circuit breaker, but it's a certainly an amount of power that's available to mere mortals. I have a feeling that we'll be surprised by all the creative ways the contestants will find to save watts. Since there is no size/clumsiness limit, I have a feeling that the cooling will be done by water pumped from a giant, passively cooling reservoir. (Well, there was a vague mention of "racks" - so maybe that won't fly.) But I genuinely wonder what sort of architecture will have the advantage here. My money is on ARM. Anyway, what's cool is that the result will be an awesome machine which could actually run in your house, and that's pretty sweet.

actually, it wouldn't trip your breaker(s) (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 4 years ago | (#33373964)

You'll notice they specified two 120v outlets of 13A each. You could easily run that on two standard home outlets, as long as they were on different circuits.

Let's put CPU's in electric heaters. (3, Insightful)

gox (1595435) | about 4 years ago | (#33373902)

I've always found electric heaters (including geysers, etc. but mostly environmental heating) a huge waste of low entropy. You can achieve the same goal by powering enough chips -- would work especially well for floor heating. Now, if you're not recycling old computers, it might cost some, but if our only constraint is energy, we can thus create a supercomputer that spends 0 energy "for itself", just by installing this system to a few buildings.

You could even communicate through the power line, thus eliminating the need for a separate network installation. "Buy our @home geyser, that pays for itself!", that sort of thing...

Re:Let's put CPU's in electric heaters. (0)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33374418)

Your hands were waving over the keyboard instead of putting words into it. Please hang up and try again.

PPFFFT Coffee powered (1)

PalmKiller (174161) | about 4 years ago | (#33373986)

Aside from his obvious misuse of amperage as an energy unit. Does any of this really make sense, why save power...crank that baby up.

Re:PPFFFT Coffee powered (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33374456)

Power consumption is a critical performance metric for large-scale computing systems.

The whole ponit here is to prove you can do more with a limited resource where that resource is something that computing systems managers are desirous of reducing because it gives them the right to claim all sorts of greenish certification bonads from the marketosphere, and improve their bottom line for the investosphere.

Re:PPFFFT Coffee powered (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33374476)

Sorry, that's ponit[TM].

How many? (1)

djh2400 (1362925) | about 4 years ago | (#33374118)

Unit confusion aside, it wouldn't take much to be like "Hey, it doesn't use much power; let's get hundreds/thousands of these things working. Just imagine the unfathomable algorithms we can calculate!" Aaaaaand.... we're back where we started.

Low Energy Supercomputing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33374174)

...aye, 'tis been done before, or at least (really) low powered boxes have been clustered e.g.

PicoCluster [slipperyskip.com]
Plan 9 Cluster [mirtchovski.com]

and all the way up to SeaMicro's 512 Atom beast [seamicro.com]

So get some more modern (than the first two examples) SBC's, put them into a rack form factor case (as per the rules), chuck in some Coreboot and then profit.

If watts = volts times amps... (1)

azav (469988) | about 4 years ago | (#33374602)

then this means on a 120 volt system, we're talking 3,210 watts to run the thing. That's about 3 kilowatts.

CUDA (1)

Freddybear (1805256) | about 4 years ago | (#33374906)

Seems to me that a three-way SLI Nvidia config running CUDA would be hard to beat.

Besides the [P] != A problem (1)

drolli (522659) | about 4 years ago | (#33375310)

Do they write anywhere how much of the superconducting architecture they have? Number of cores? Flops? Mips? Anything?

Heck, i can build any architecture with a few watts if i am allowed to underclock and only use 4 cores to demonstrate it.

But well.... It was in Texas... Down where hillbilly creationists roam in the educational boards. Probably they where thought in school to strip any experiment of units and sensible numbers and replace these but general claims, so that all theories are equally scientific.

Not supercomputing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33375476)

If it's that small and uses so little energy, is it actually worth the name super computing? Make a cluster of 100 of those, maybe then it's super computing...

More voltage, please (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 4 years ago | (#33375936)

Most switching mode power supplies work more efficiently at the higher AC voltage of 240 volts. So, what draws 26 amps at 120 volts should typically draw less than 13 amps at 240 volts. You can thus run more than twice as much computer capacity on the same wiring gauge, which means additional savings in energy loss through the wiring feeding to the computers.

Most homes in the USA have 240 volts. If you are going to put a lot of computers in a room, wire up a 240 volt circuit for it. Just be sure to use double-pole switches (which the power supplies do). The 120 volt surge protectors won't work or won't be safe. Get some 240 volt ones with the IEC connectors (same as the PSU input) which should have the double pole switches.

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