Liquid cooling boost for UK industrial AI supercomputer

Liquid cooling boost for UK industrial AI supercomputer

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) in the UK has signed an agreement with Lenovo for the installation of an AI supercomputer for the STFC Hartree Centre for industrial research.

The GPU-based supercomputer at the STFC Hartree Centre will be ten times more powerful than its predecessor at 44PFLOPs but use 40% less electricity by using direct water cooling.

The AI supercomputer is part of the Hartree Centre’s £210 million Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation (HNCDI) programme, which provides UK industry access to AI digital technologies and expertise for automotive, materials and cleantech research.

The details of the Lenovo ThinkSystem Neptune AI supercomputer have not been specified but it is due to be installed later this year. This rules out the latest B100 Blackwell G{PU technology but is likely to be the Nvidia HGX AI platform with H100 and H200 Tensor Core GPUs.

Located at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, at Sci-Tech Daresbury in the Liverpool City Region, the Hartree Centre is the UK’s only supercomputing centre dedicated to industry engagement and will operate alongside Isambard AI in Bristol and the Supercomputer Centre in Edinburgh.

This includes the Hartree Centre’s continued collaboration with the UK Atomic Energy Authority, which is using the centre to research new reactors for clean nuclear fusion energy.

We are very excited to be working with Lenovo on our next generation of supercomputer at the Hartree Centre,” said Kate Royse, Director, STFC Hartree Centre. “Our mission is to equip UK industry with the knowledge, skills and compute needed to fully unlock the potential of advanced digital technologies. With our new supercomputer we will be able to support UK industry in the use of big data and AI technologies to enable UK businesses to take a leading role internationally on the responsible adoption and exploitation of AI technology.

Lenovo this month expanded its ThinkSystem AI portfolio with liquid cooled 8-way Nvidia GPU systems.

With an ultra-efficient power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.1, the ThinkSystem SR780a V3 is a 5U system that uses Lenovo Neptune liquid cooling. By using direct water cooling of CPU and GPUs and NVSwitch interconnect technology, the system can sustain maximum performance without hitting any thermal limits.

Because liquid cooling provides a more energy-efficient alternative to air, the system can drive higher sustained performance while consuming less energy. It also allows the ThinkSystem SR780a to fit in a dense 5U package, helping to conserve valuable data center real estate. 

Also accelerating the portfolio, the new Lenovo ThinkSystem SR680a V3 is an air-cooled, two-socket system built for maximum acceleration for complex AI with Intel processors and a choice of Nvidia GPUs.

Lenovo has also showcased its 1U PG8A0N (above) with open-loop liquid cooling for accelerators, supporting the Nvidia GB200 Grace Blackwell Superchip.

The GB200 delivers 45X faster real-time large language model (LLM) inference, 40X lower TCO, and 40X less energy and Lenovo aims to supply GB200 rack systems that supercharge AI training, data processing, engineering design and simulation.



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