Evolution of Information Technology and the increasing energy demands that go with higher computational power have historically been an obstacle to sustainability. Recent IDC research shows that over the past ten years the average cost to power and cool an installed base of servers has doubled. A project run by the University of California, San Diego aims to measure the energy efficiency of new technologies such as 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GigE) and their impact on cluster capacity and efficiency - and reduction of energy costs.
How to enable green IT computer science
A green strategy requires various steps: monitoring and controlling the use of electricity of network-connected devices, design innovative ways to reduce energy consumption and then more monitoring and measuring to refine the process. Academia and enterprise often collaborate in this research, looking for ways to get more computational work done for fewer watts of energy. This is the scope of GreenLight, a project run by the scientists and engineers of UC San Diego, one of the greenest universities in the US. When it is built, the GreenLight Instrument will measure, monitor and help optimize the energy consumption of large-scale scientific applications from many different disciplines.
What makes the project exemplary is that the cluster used to run the measurements and the monitoring has been designed to use less energy than most data centers: GreenLight consists of an eco-friendly Sun Modular Datacenter container with 8 racks of servers. When fully populated, the servers will connect to 7 edge switches via 1 Gbps links and the edge switches will connect with 10 GigE uplinks to the Quadrics TG201-XA switch, which maintains low latency and high bandwidth and ensures the end users quality of service. The immediate advantage, as Tom DeFanti, GreenLight principal investigator, explains, is that "GreenLight uses 10 Gbps over dedicated optical fiber links so end users move their clusters out of their faculty closets and into much greener configurations".
Quadrics TG201: Maximum Data Throughput, Minimum Latency and Minimum Power Consumption
Quadrics TG201-XA is a 1U, 10 GigE switch with 12 CX4 and 12 XFP ports. TG201 switches have the lowest latency in the 10 GigE market. Low latency (200ns) combined with high throughput (480Gbps) and fully non-blocking layer-2 switching make it an ideal solution for the ever-demanding needs of the Data Centres, high utilization virtualized servers, Campus network core switching and storage consolidation.
In the GreenLight cluster the TG201 switch aggregates 10GE links from each of the edge switches. Five additional channel-bonded links provide a 50 Gbps connection to the OptIPuter Core. In the quest to improve GreenLight energy efficiency the choice of Quadrics' TG201-XA answered requirements for both higher performance and lower energy consumption. TG201 switches use between 20% and 80% less power per port than other products in the 10 GigE market.
Quadrics TG201-XA 10GE switch
Better Power Usage Effectiveness for Full Scale applications
The GreenLight project is testing the energy efficiency of computing systems under real-world conditions. Applications as diverse as bioinformatics, digital media, metagenomics, microscopy and ocean observing will be running on full-scale computing platforms.
Tom DeFanti: "We have selected 5 computationally-intensive application projects from a broad range of disciplines, each of which can benefit from the GreenLight Instrument. For each project, we first measure the current energy use, then use GreenLight to devise strategies for evolving each to a more energy efficient mode, in the process giving our team critical end-user feedback on improving the instrument". The target is to improve Power Usage Effectiveness, by a combination of best practices adoption and efficient equipment.
"The Quadrics TG201 24-port 10GiGE switch is a full-bisection bandwidth switch that enables us to richly connect the Greenlight Instrument into campus research networks," said Philip Papadopoulos, a San Diego Supercomputer Center scientist and co-PI on the GreenLight project. "We are driving DWDM optics directly from the switch to support as much as 80Gbit/sec on a single fiber pair."
Reducing costs and improving operational efficiency with 10 GigE
Academia and enterprise alike are looking for greener technology in order to reduce running costs, lessen IT impact on earth and increase the long term returns. Business owners are always looking to reduce the cost in power consumption.
The GreenLight project shows how 10 GigE technology reduces the running costs and improves operational efficiency in three ways:
• Scalability: 10 GigE provides computationally-intensive applications room to scale;
• Network bandwidth: Servers are better utilized as the high bandwidth provided by 10 GigE reduces the inefficiencies of network bottlenecks;
• Power Consumption: 10GigE reduces the number of connections required to obtain high bandwidth, plus the switch itself has been designed for minimum power consumption.
"The ICT sector and universities can play an important role in reducing carbon emissions to fight global warming," said Calit2 director Larry Smarr, a professor of computer science in UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering. "A whole new generation of equipment is being designed to build out the rapidly growing Internet economy, and that equipment has to be much greener than what we have today".
Luigi Lavorgna, Quadrics Director: "Thanks to the UC San Diego the technology sector will acquire valuable insights to reduce the costs of running a business and boost efficiency. The private sector can benefit enormously from efficient products that the evolution of information technology has made now available, and in particular with the adoption of 10 Gigabit Ethernet products such as Quadrics TG201 Switches".
University of California, San Diego
Founded in 1960, the University of California, San Diego is one of the most accomplished research universities in the US, widely acknowledged for its local impact, national influence and global reach. UC San Diego is one of the leading universities investigating energy efficiency in information technology and data centers. It is the only university member of Green Grid, an international consortium dedicated to reducing energy usage at data centers. UC San Diego has one of the largest and most advanced university renewable energy programs.
The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and University of California, Irvine (UCI) jointly run The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), one of four California Institutes for Science and Innovation.
Quadrics - Leading Suppliers of High Performance Interconnect
Quadrics is a leading supplier and developer of high performance networking products and resource management software. Our software and hardware expertise is behind some of the world's fastest computers.
With a philosophy and proven track record of working in partnership, we are helping to solve the world's most complex technological challenges. Able to call on a long heritage of expertise and the strength of one of Europe's leading corporations, Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica Company, we combine world-leading technology and industry backing with a collaborative approach to doing business. Quadrics is ideally placed to remain at the forefront of supercomputing.