Water Quality for High-Performance Computing

Water Quality for High-Performance Computing

Attention has been paid to the sheer quantity of water consumed by supercomputers’ cooling towers – and rightly so, as they can require thousands of gallons per minute to cool. But in the background, another factor can emerge, bottlenecking efficiency and raising costs: water quality.

By Oliver Peckham

Water quality is the obstacle facing Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL) Strategic Computing Complex (SCC), a supercomputing facility that models and simulates nuclear weapons in support of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program.

Currently, the SCC needs around 45 million gallons a year (MGY) of water for cooling its Trinity supercomputer, a Cray system benchmarked at 14.137 Linpack petaflops.


SERF. Image courtesy of LANL.

There are, of course, a slew of water quality standards for the water that is discharged from the facility. Furthermore, beyond certain contamination levels, the cooling water can damage elements of the system through corrosion or “scaling” – and the water at Los Alamos is very high in silica. To remove dissolved solids and combat these effects, SCC’s cooling towers use wastewater treated by LANL’s Sanitary Effluent Recovery Facility (SERF).

Read full article: HPC Wire 

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