NCAR Wyoming Supercomputer Center


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The NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) is a world-class scientific supercomputing facility for research in atmospheric and related geosciences. Its supercomputers help researchers perform highly complex tasks such as modeling global climate change and calculating the paths of hurricanes.

The design team, which included H+L Architecture, RMH Group, and Integral Group, developed a flexible, modular approach to the facility that enabled housing multiple generations of supercomputer-class systems. The current state-of-the-art supercomputing systems are capable of one quadrillion floating point instructions per second and have power densities up to 1,000 watts/square foot. Even with that much power consumption, the NWSC’s innovative design- with a projected Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) ratio of 1.08 – makes it one of the top 1% most energy efficient data centers worldwide.

At initial buildout, the facility will be comprised of two 98,000 square foot modules, each containing two computer raised-floor spaces of approximately 15,000 square feet; 6,000 square feet of data storage and archival space; a network operations center; and 10,000 square feet of office space. Compressor-free cooling will be used in the Data Center for 96% of the year. Because the supercomputers can be cooled with 65°F water, cooling towers designed for a low approach can limit the need for chiller operation to only 200-500 hrs/yr. Likewise for air-cooled equipment, 75°F supply air with hot-aisle containment allows “medium temperature” chilled water to be used. The building systems of NWSC will be a showcase for simple, straightforward, cost effective energy reduction strategies that are also inherently reliable and easy to maintain.

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