Operate the NWSC efficiently and reliably

Electrical maintenance
A CISL electrician prepares to close an electrical circuit breaker at the NWSC. To shield his body from the possibility of an electrical arc flash that can explosively project intense heat, acoustic energy, pressure waves, and molten debris, he is wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) called an arc flash suit. The contractor behind him is working on a separate system that requires different PPE.

CISL will continue improving NWSC efficiency as measured by metrics such as its Power Utilization Efficiency (PUE). Since 2012, the facility has performed very well and achieved many of its design goals for efficiency, maintainability, and reliability. In particular, the NWSC’s design encompasses a number of energy-saving features representing the state of the art in efficiency and sustainability, and these features reduce operating costs significantly below those of traditional computing facilities. The design for NWSC assumed a 4-MW load for computing equipment and projected a design PUE of 1.08.

When the Yellowstone supercomputer began production at the NWSC in FY2012, NCAR fulfilled a top imperative of its strategic plan to meet the rapidly growing HPC needs of Earth System scientists. This work reflected strong engagement by all stakeholders in a public-private partnership that included the University of Wyoming, the State of Wyoming, Cheyenne LEADS, the Wyoming Business Council, and the National Science Foundation.

NCAR’s addition of the Cheyenne supercomputer has significantly enhanced our ability to meet researchers’ growing needs. In FY2017 when the Cheyenne supercomputer joined Yellowstone in production, their combined electrical load allowed the NWSC to achieve its PUE design goal of 1.08, and the facility has maintained that level of efficiency throughout the year.

To prepare for the NWSC’s seventh year in operation, CISL staff performed significant preventative maintenance operations to the facility’s mechanical and electrical systems. CISL staff analyzed all electrical systems and maintained all equipment per the manufacturers' specifications and recommendations.

The operational expenses for NWSC during FY2017 were met using NSF Core funds.