[LINK] Grid data factory world's largest network computer

Tom Worthington tomw99 at fastmail.fm
Wed May 21 09:12:48 EST 2003

At 19/05/03 02:44, Chirgwin, Richard wrote (was"RE: grangenet":
>... a "grid computing implementation strategy" by any listed company to be 
>a good reason to dump it's stock. ...

By an amazing coincidence, the following was just released:

                 Link Institute LinkAlert

Canberra, 21 May 2003: The vision for the next Internet was unveiled in 
Canberra today with the announcement of the grid "data factory". Professor 
Klerphel, Director of the Link Institute announced a breakthrough in large 
scale networked computing.

In a revolutionary breakthrough the Link Institute has developed a system 
combining the space saving features of rack mounting and the low cost of 
commodity PCs. The world's first Data-Factry (TM pending) is under 
construction in Canberra for an undisclosed national security government 

Professor Klerphel explained that US cluster computers are built using rack 
mounted components 
These are more compact, but more expensive, than systems like Australia's 
Bunyip supercomputer, which use commodity PCs stacked on shelves.

The world's largest cluster computer is being built from  modules similar 
in size to standard rack mount computer cabinets, but made from commodity 
PCs fixed to low cost industrial shelving. These modules are stacked in an 
industrial pallet warehouse, to build a low cost system with thousands of 

The design of the cluster computer is based on the Australian Bunyip 
supercomputer <http://tux.anu.edu.au/Projects/Beowulf/>, with modules 
holding 16 PCs (4 rows of 4 PCs, plus centrally mounted gigabit Ethernet 
switches). Each module is slightly larger than a standard equipment rack, 
but is much lower cost and can be stacked for space saving.

Modules are built by fixing the PCs on steel shelves with webbing straps, a 
technology proven in deployable military command centres 
<http://www.tomw.net.au/nt/tt97.html#IC3I>. The modules are assembled and 
tested, before being shipped to the site and plugged in. These modules are 
compatible with standard industrial pallet handling equipment for ease of 
transport. A small 16 module (512 processor) test system was assembled in a 
room the size of a squash court in less than a day.

For the full scale system a low cost industrial pallet rack warehouse 
<http://www.warehouse-systems.co.uk/Pallet%20racking.htm> was converted 
into a computer centre. Equipment modules are tested at ground level, then 
stacked 15m high, using fork lift trucks. Lighting and air conditioning are 
hung from the ceiling, with cabling snaking down the racks, using standard 
industrial fittings. There is no expensive false floor, or office quality 
fittings, just a sealed concrete floor. Heavy air and power conditioning 
equipment is pallet mounted at ground level for fast installation and 
maintenance. Staff wear overalls and hard hats, rather than business suits.

The temperature in the building is allowed to fluctuate more than in a 
traditional data centre, to reduce air conditioning costs. "The building is 
around ambient temperature most of the year, so the air conditioning need 
is minimal. Our computers are designed for a normal office environment and 
so doesn't need a lot of cosseting. Much of the space at a conventional 
data centre is taken up by the air conditioning systems, not computers." 
Professor Kelrphel said.

The roof is equipped with solar panels to supplement energy and air 
conditioning. To further reduce costs the system has a smart power system 
to switch off modules when not in use. A small uninterruptable power system 
can supply essential modules in the event of mains power loss.

The first phase of the system is in a small warehouse of 800 sq m. and has 
1,024 modules (with 32,768 processors).  Plans are to expand the system to 
1,000 times this size. The warehouse is near an industrial park with low 
cost land, and good power and telecommunication services.

Because of its national security application the location of the data 
factory is not being advertised. While it looks like a normal warehouse 
from the ground, the building is difficult to spot from the air by any 
potential terrorist. The roof uses standard pre-painted steel decking, but 
with panels of different colours arranged in a computer generated 
camouflage pattern.

In a related development three smaller prefabricated DataFactys are said to 
being readied for deployment to Iraq by high speed ship 
<http://www.tomw.net.au/2002/tsv1x/index.html>. Construction is expected to 
take seven days, with the systems rumoured to be being destined to run the 
new Iraq government, via the fibre optic network built to control Scud 
missiles. The system is are said to have more processing power than all 
computers used for administering the USA.


Tom Worthington FACS tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd ABN: 17 088 714 309
http://www.tomw.net.au PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617  

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