Tokyo Institute of Technology to develop Supercomputer with a cooling system that uses snow, ice and underground water

Tokyo Institute of Technology plans a five-year project beginning next fiscal year to develop a supercomputer with a cooling system that uses snow, ice and underground water in cold weather regions. Amid the intensifying global competition over supercomputers, one significant technological hurdle is that the larger a super-computer, the more electricity it consumes. Currently, supercomputer cooling systems consume about 30 percent to 50 percent of the electricity necessary to power the devices. The institute aims to reduce power consumption by 40 percent in a new supercomputer with the natural cooling materials. If successful, a supercomputer with a superior energy-saving system will be created.

In the project, a container with a small computer inside will be placed on the campus of Hokkaido University. The computer will be cooled with low-temperature air, which is 7 C lower on average than in Tokyo, as well as underground water, snow and ice, to test whether the computer will operate in a stable manner. If successful, the institute will consider placing a larger computer at Hokkaido University. IBM’s research lab in Zurich has built a supercomputer system utilizing water-cooling, which reduced electricity consumption by about 40 percent.