Meet the “meanest” and greenest supercomputer in the world—thanks to liquid immersion cooling from GRC.

Unites States Air Force (USAF)

Installation Details

  • Location: Undisclosed
  • Industry: Government & Military
  • Capacity (in MW): Undisclosed
  • Annual Energy Savings: Undisclosed
  • Customer Since: 2012

The Challenge

The United States Air Force (USAF) was facing a number of issues:

  • The data center at Hill Air Force Base in Utah was out of space and needed to add capacity quickly and cost-effectively
  • There is an ongoing need to rapidly deploy remotely controlled computing power in faraway, often environmentally harsh locations—with minimum personnel and support equipment
  • Many of their data centers do not meet strict new requirements for redundancy and efficiency

As many organizations do, the USAF quickly realized the major time and cost implications of building new data centers from the ground up, or even significantly upgrading existing facilities.

The GRC Solution

GRC addressed all three of the USAF’s challenges in one simple solution: our portable, modular ICEtank™ liquid-cooled “data center in a box.”

We developed two designs. One featured cooling towers, which offered the best hot-weather performance and greatest efficiency but with significant water usage. The other was a dry-cooled system, which offered water-free cooling.

The first efficient, low-cost unit we deployed enabled them to drop compliant computing power right outside their Hill AFB data center and save money by tapping into existing power, internet and water resources. Another unit was shipped and quickly installed at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma with minimal capital expenditures.

Both ICEtanks featured servers designed for immersion (SDI) to help maximize cost and density benefits.

Results

GRC’s ICEtank™ modular liquid-cooled data centers have provided impressive results across the board for the USAF:

  • 100% high-performance computing uptime for three years and counting
  • A 93.1% reduction in cooling power, achieving a 1.037 PUE
  • Stable, dependable performance in both extreme cold and warm environments
  • A 314% increase in in per-rack power
  • The use of SDIs increased density and efficiency over air-cooled alternatives—drawing 18.1% less power than air-cooled servers
  • Just one of our four-rack 40’ ISO modules provided the same compute as 153 air-cooled racks

Based on the results, the USAF has commissioned a third 40’ ICEtank unit with an integrated UPS and a hybrid cooler, which relies on dry cooling most of the year and switches to water cooling during spells of high temperatures.

A Closer Look:

About the United States Air Force:

The mission of the United States Air Force is to fly, fight and win…in air, space and cyberspace. To achieve that mission, the Air Force has a vision:

The United States Air Force will be a trusted and reliable joint partner with our sister services known for integrity in all of our activities, including supporting the joint mission first and foremost. We will provide compelling air, space, and cyber capabilities for use by the combatant commanders. We will excel as stewards of all Air Force resources in service to the American people, while providing precise and reliable Global Vigilance, Reach and Power for the nation.

airforce.com