HPC at the edge of ideal: How atNorth has leveraged geography to become Europe’s largest data center

Posted: 1 Aug 2018

If a person could custom-make the ideal environment for hosting a data center, the exercise would probably wind up constructing a place that looks a lot like Iceland. From its robust and modern power infrastructure to its cost-competitive, reliable and 100% renewable electricity to its chilly climate that cuts data center cooling costs to extremely low levels to its well-educated and highly skilled IT workforce, Iceland has in fact been rated the safest location in the world for data centers. (Cushman/Wakefield Data Center Risk Index, 2016)

These are just some of the reasons Advania Data Centers (ADC) offers among the most competitive HPC hosting, cloud HPC and HPC Software as a Service solutions in the world — offered under the brand name HPCFLOW. Because of the reasons above, ADC’s reliability and uptime ratings are extremely competitive.

Reliability, efficiency, economy

Reliability is one crucial factor that cannot be replaced or replicated by data centers and HPC service providers in less stable electric grid environments. The 2016 World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, for instance, ranked Iceland fifth worldwide for the quality of electricity supply. Iceland’s fossil fuel-free 100% renewable electricity sources (from hydroelectric and geothermal sources) mean long-term power purchase agreements are leveraged with no price volatility. Advania Data Centers has not experienced even one second of downtime due to natural disasters in its history. Iceland’s highly stable electric grid also translates to low rates that are passed on to the consumer as competitive HPCFLOW service prices.

ADC’s greatly streamlined cooling efficiency can also translate to higher speeds and bigger throughputs in your HPC system’s performance. Because ADC does not need use precious floor space with elaborate cooling fans or liquid pumps and liquid containment systems, ADC’s clusters can boast up to 40 kW per rack. By contrast, for a data center in a warmer climate, 7 kW per rack cluster density ratings are more commonplace.

Also passed on to the consumer is the 100% natural free cooling system that nature provides in the form of Iceland’s climate. ADC’s HPE Apollo 6000 state-of-the-art high-performance computer systems are air-cooled, greatly simplifying the often liquid-cooled Apollo 6000 architectures one finds in other data centers. Some HPC data centers set up their facilities in desert climates or other arid or even just temperate environments. Then because they pay extra to cool every square centimeter of their centers, the end user pays extra too.

Rating a PUE score

To translate the above into numbers, a data center’s Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating describes how efficiently it uses its power budget. A pristine and ideal center that had no cooling or other power overhead requirements would operate with a PUE of 1.0. A typical data center PUE rating might be 1.8 or more. Some desert or arid environment data centers can have PUE ratings at 2 or 3 or more.

ADC’s Thor data center (3.2 MW at 80% utilization) rates a PUE score of just 1.17 ADC’s Mjölnir data center (65 MW at 100% utilization at the moment) offers a spartan 1.03. That means just 3% of the amount of electricity ADC uses to run the HPC clusters goes toward cooling and other overhead.

Expansion underway

Not surprisingly, with numbers this attractive ADC has been highly subscribed and Mjölnir currently operates close to capacity. However, ADC has recently embarked on a major project to expand capacity at Mjölnir such that it will soon expand to 100 MW. This expansion has made Mjölnir the largest commercial data center in Europe and one of the largest worldwide.

The two data centers together also offer top rated security, with ISO 27001-certified operations. Connectivity is also abundant and redundant into ADC’s centers, with three sea cables running to both Europe and the United States.

Additionally, staff and IT expertise at ADC’s two Iceland facilities are world-class. ADC’s teams of HPC specialists have close technical alliance partnerships with many of the leading HPC hardware and software providers. For instance, ADC in partnership with HPE and Intel has developed a hybrid HPC cloud platform, HPCFLOW for HPC customers. Also, ADC in consultation with NVIDIA recently opened the Nordic countries’ leading GPU Test Drive Center — providing HPC users the opportunity to “test drive” their own CPU-only HPC applications and software/hardware stacks alongside the same configuration with GPU-accelerators added.

To discover how ADC and HPCFLOW can change your company’s and your customers’ HPC experience, contact ADC’s HPC solutions specialists to arrange for a free benchmark “test drive” today.