The L-CSC cluster: Optimizing power efficiency to become the greenest supercomputer in the world in the Green500 list of November 2014

David Rohr, Gvozden Neskovic, Volker Lindenstruth


The L-CSC (Lattice Computer for Scientific Computing) is a general purpose compute cluster built with commodity hardware installed at GSI. Its main operational purpose is Lattice QCD (LQCD) calculations for physics simulations. Quantum Chromo Dynamics (QCD) is the physical theory describing the strong force, one of the four known fundamental interactions in the universe. L-CSC leverages a multi-GPU design accommodating the huge demand of LQCD for memory bandwidth. In recent years, heterogeneous clusters with accelerators such as GPUs have become more and more powerful while supercomputers in general have shown enormous increases in power consumption making electricity costs and cooling a significant factor in the total cost of ownership. Using mainly GPUs for processing, L-CSC is very power-efficient, and its architecture was optimized to provide the greatest possible power efficiency. This paper presents the cluster design as well as optimizations to improve the power efficiency. It examines the power measurements performed for the Green500 list of the most power-efficient supercomputers in the world which led to the number 1 position as the greenest supercomputer in November 2014.

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