Cambridge Builds World’s Second Energy-Efficient Supercomputer


Cambridge University has created one of the world's greenest supercomputers.

The energy-efficient high-performance computer, named Wilkes after Cambridge computing pioneer Maurice Wilkes, has been listed second in the 'Green 500'; placed 166 in the Top 500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers, and is the most efficient air-cooled supercomputer in the world and fastest GPU supercomputer in the UK.

The performance of Wilkes is equivalent to 4, 000 desktop computers working at the same time; it has energy efficiency of 3,361 Mega-flops per watt; provides 100 gigabytes per-second bandwidth, and a message rate of over 137 million messages a second.

The supercomputer, designed and built by the in-house engineering team, will be used for the development of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the world's largest telescope.

"Energy-efficiency is the biggest single challenge in supercomputing today and our new system makes an important step forward in this regard," Dr Paul Calleja, Director of the Cambridge High Performance Computing Service, said in a statement.

Apart from playing a crucial role in the design process of SKA, the supercomputer can also be used to design and test jet engines and new drugs to fight cancer, and study the fundamental nature of the nucleus of the atom.

The GPU system is placed in customized "green data centre", which incorporates evaporative air-coolers and water heat-exchangers that further enhances its environmental credentials.

"Together, the cooling and processing systems behind Wilkes dramatically reduce the power consumption in the data centre, making the total facility one of the most energy-efficiency data centres in the world," Calleja said. "Also, the new SKA development lab places the University at the forefront of large-scale, big-data platform development."

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