GOLDEN, Colo. — The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has selected HP and Intel to provide a new energy-efficient high performance computer (HPC) system. NREL’s new HPC data center will provide additional computing resources to support its research into renewable energy technologies including solar photovoltaics, wind energy, building technologies, and more.

The $10 million HPC system will reside at the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), under construction on the Golden, Colo., campus. NREL said the new system will greatly expand its modeling and simulation capabilities. It will also support research into fully integrated energy systems that would otherwise be too expensive, or even impossible, to study directly. The HPC’s petascale computing capability (1 million billion calculations per second) is the world’s largest computing capability dedicated solely to renewable energy and energy efficiency research.

“This unique capability sets NREL apart in our ability to continue groundbreaking research and analysis,” said Dan Arvizu, NREL director. “In partnership with HP and Intel, NREL is acquiring one of the most energy efficient, high performance computer systems in the world for our research.”

The HPC data center at NREL is designed to be the world’s most energy efficient, with an annualized average power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.06 or better. The average data center operates with a PUE of 1.91, according to 2009 data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Program. NREL’s data center design is compact, resulting in short runs for both electrical and plumbing components. This project features a technology, currently under development, that uses warm water in the computing rack to efficiently cool the servers.

NREL will maximize the reuse of heat generated by the HPC system. The waste heat from the computer system will be used as the primary heat source in the ESIF offices and lab space.

Publication date: 9/17/2012