Verne Global

HPC | Research |

6 July 2017

Iceland - Meeting the needs of Researchers with Advanced Computing

Written by Spencer Lamb

Spencer is Verne Global's Director of Research and head's up our work with European and North American education, research and scientific computing organisations.

I joined Verne Global six months ago as their Director of Research and for the first time had the pleasure of attending the ISC17 High Performance Computing summit in Frankfurt last month. The summit has been running for over 30 years and its main purpose is to bring together the European community of research users and High Performance Computing (HPC) suppliers.

The purpose of our attendance was to promote the Verne Global data center solution to this audience, whose HPC platforms consume huge quantities of electricity. The diminishing availability of power to an increasingly expanding European data center industry is causing users to re-look at their long-term data centre strategies, especially for power-intensive computational work such as HPC. This is particularly the case in Germany where we had feedback from a number of industrial users at ISC17 that they were now paying €0.25/kW/hour compared to €0.04/kW/hour in Iceland.

At Verne Global, we provide access to Iceland’s advantageous power profile. This encompasses abundant, 100% renewable hydro-electric and geothermal energy, all delivered by one of the world’s most reliable and scalable grids, and offers savings of 70 - 80% when compared with continental Europe. Uniquely, Verne Global is able to offer this exceptional power profile via 15-year contracts – providing long-term, forecastable data center pricing security.

Ultimately this means research institutes, laboratories and universities can spend more of their research budget on the actual ‘science’, and less on the power-bill, while also dramatically reducing their research carbon footprints. And for Verne Global, our exceptional, secure power profile, allows us to focus on delivering, creative, flexible and market leading platforms for those customers. In doing so we have launched a cloud platform and high performance computing as a service. This supports our customers, whose infrastructure can flex as their needs mature.

Verne Global’s core business provides data center services – power, cooling and building infrastructure, which supports the customer’s HPC equipment within the racks. This service is wrapped with service level commitments attuned for HPC operation and supported critically, by Iceland’s power profile and free air-cooling capability to servers. Our R&D on this HPC data center platform has been based on our experience with research customers, evolving the technical solution to deliver reduced resilience for compute at lower cost and maintaining Tier 3 resilience for the storage racks.

By combining the savings from much lower energy costs, free-air cooling and optimising the data center resilience where appropriate for the compute racks, the total cost of operations (TCO) outcome is significantly lower than these organisations experience within their existing supplier provided data center facilities. To put this into some context, a data center delivering 1MW of IT load with 80% utilisation, will cost €2million/annum. In Iceland this will cost less than €1million/annum.

We look forward to exploring further discussions with many of the attendees we met at ISC17 and meeting many more at ISC18! In the meantime, check out our Case Study with Earlham Institute to see how Iceland is optimal for large computational workloads around HPC.

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