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National Petascale Computing Facility reaches substantial completion

The University of Illinois’ National Petascale Computing Facility (NPCF) has reached substantial completion and will be ready for operations June 1.

“We were able to complete this state-of-the-art facility ahead of schedule and under budget,” said John Melchi, who led the NPCF project as the head of the Administration Directorate of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). “This building and the computing, networking and data services it will house will be a cutting-edge national resource.”

The NPCF will house the National Science Foundation-supported Blue Waters supercomputer, a massive supercomputer to be built using IBM’s new POWER7 processors that will be capable of performing quadrillions of calculations every second. The facility offers room for co-location of other systems, including a recently announced Department of Defense-funded supercomputer to be operated by the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC), and for growth of NCSA’s computing and data infrastructure.

“Infrastructure is critical for driving discovery,” said NCSA Director Thom Dunning. “With Blue Waters and the NPCF we will have the infrastructure in place to maintain our national leadership in high-performance computing through the petascale and beyond.”

“Illinois’ investment in this facility will support advances in science and engineering and benefits for society for years to come,” said Illinois Chancellor Robert A. Easter.

NPCF will achieve at least LEED Gold certification, a benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of green buildings established by the U.S. Green Building Council. Among of the green innovations introduced as part of the project are three onsite cooling towers where water will be chilled naturally by the outside air about 70 percent of the year.

The building’s forecasted power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating is an impressive 1.2 or better; PUE is determined by dividing the amount of power entering a data center by the power used to run the computer infrastructure within it, so efficiency is greater as the quotient decreases toward 1.

University of Illinois’ Facilities & Services was a key partner on the design and construction project. HP Critical Facilities Services, delivered by EYP MCF and Gensler were the engineering and architectural firms. Clayco/Nova is the construction manager. The project provided approximately 100 construction jobs.

NCSA will host a workshop on the challenges of data center design and operation June 23-24. Tours of the National Petascale Computing Facility will be offered during the workshop, and NCSA will share lessons learned during the design and construction process. For details and to register, see:

Note that space is limited and priority will be given to those affiliated with academia, government, research centers, or actively involved in data center operation.

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