Friday, February 1, 2013

AnandTech Article Channel

AnandTech Article Channel

Closing the Loop II: New Liquid Coolers from Corsair and Swiftech

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 08:01 PM PST

When we visited CES 2013, it became increasingly clear that not only were closed loop liquid coolers here to stay, but that they are in fact "the next big thing" in desktop system cooling. There are good reasons to go for them, too. While you may have to deal with some mild pump noise depending on which model you go with, closed loop coolers are capable of providing excellent performance without creating a racket or placing too much stress on the motherboard (the way a heavy air cooler might).

That we have three new closed loop coolers available for review not long after the last roundup should tell you that the closed loop cooler market is, if you'll forgive the expression, heating up. On the heels of NZXT's Kraken X40 and X60, Corsair has their own H90 and H110 coolers based on the same Asetek 140mm and 280mm radiators. Our newer, potentially even more exciting competitor comes from Swiftech in the form of the 240mm H220. Unlike conventional closed loop coolers, Swiftech's entry uses high quality brass tubing and copper fins in the radiator along with their own specially designed pump and extra thick (yet still flexible hoses). Is it enough to shore up the difference between traditional 240mm radiators and monstrous 280mm ones?

Three Months with Microsoft's Office 365

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 08:01 PM PST

Windows and Office. It’s a duo that has made up the core of Microsoft’s business since before I was born, and remains the cornerstone upon which the rest of the company is built. And so it has gone, for as long as I can remember: with each new version of Windows, a refreshed edition of Office to go along with it. 

This year, we’ve got Office 2013. We’ve obviously had some experience with it in Windows RT form, and I spent a fair amount of time using the Office 15 Consumer Preview last year (in fact, I wrote my Masters thesis in Word 2013 Preview). In the grand scheme of things, it’s a pretty major change, with the biggest probably being the move towards a subscription-based model, though you can still buy Office in a traditional retail boxed edition with a standalone license. The interesting part is Office 365, which involves paying on a yearly basis for multi-device licensing and cloud storage. It’s worth clarifying the naming scheme here: Office 2013 refers to the latest version of the Office suite, while Office 365 refers to a subscription service that provides Office 2013 applications. 

It’s a pretty sleek system, with all of Microsoft’s cloud services leveraged to provide a seamless experience. Obviously, this isn’t the first time we’re seeing cloud-based document storage and backup, but the SkyDrive integration in Office 365 is much deeper than we’ve seen in the past. How does it work in day-to-day use? Read on for our impressions.

Cineca’s Tesla K20-Based “Eurora” Supercomputer Unveiled; Water Cooling Unlocks Extra Efficiency

Posted: 31 Jan 2013 03:40 PM PST

We typically don’t cover a lot of supercomputing news outside of the major Top500/Green500 announcements due to the fact that the launches of so many supercomputers are clustered around the official updates to those lists, but the following came across our desk earlier this afternoon from NVIDIA and caught our attention.

Italy’s Cineca computing center has unveiled their latest supercomputer today, a Eurotech created system built on a combination of Intel’s Xeon E5 CPUs and NVIDIA’s Tesla K20 GPUs. While the supercomputer itself is still considered a prototype and is fairly modest overall – its 110 TFLOPS would be good for roughly #250 on the most recent Top500 list – what makes this latest supercomputer particularly interesting (and just a bit snark-worthy) is not its peak performance, but rather its energy efficiency and cooling mechanism. In short, someone has finally paired a K20-based supercomputer with water cooling, with some interesting results.

Cineca's and Eurotech's Water Cooled Eurora Supercomputer

By using water cooling, Eurotech and Cineca have been able to capture the waste heat off of Eurora in a far more dense and more useful manner than air would allow, in turn allowing them to put that waste heat to productive use. By using that heat to not only heat their buildings but also to drive absorption chillers, they’ve been able to reduce the amount of heat that ultimately needs to be removed from the system, and consequently the amount of energy that is spent on cooling.

Adding an extra facet to this is the fact that due to the much greater heat capacity of water over air, using water for cooling – even warm-to-hot water as in the case of Eurora – results in lower processor temperatures than chilled air. In turn, thanks to the positive relationship in semiconductors between temperature and power consumption, these lower temperature processors consume less electricity and thereby produce less heat in the first place.

The end result is that between the use the water cooling and various other optimizations made by Eurotech, they’ve been able to produce a supercomputer significantly more power efficient than other K20 supercomputers, or any other supercomputer for that matter. At 110 TFLOPS performance for 34.7KW electricity consumption, Eurora has an energy efficiency of 3,150 MFLOPS/watt, almost 25% better than the current #1 system on the Green500 supercomputer list, a Xeon Phi system that operates at 2,500 MFLOPS/watt. This makes Eurora the most energy efficient supercomputer available by a wide margin for the moment, and while the next Green500 list won’t be published until June, if Eurora is accepted then will be a likely contender for the top spot on that list.

We won’t dwell on this too much more, but if you would like some more details there’s an interesting slide deck from Eurotech published over on NVIDIA’s website. Ultimately using waste heat for productive use is something of a one-trick pony – there aren’t too many productive ways to use that heat due to its relatively low temperature – but nevertheless it offers an interesting alternative into improving supercomputer performance within a fixed power envelope, particularly at a time where we’re beginning to see diminishing returns from smaller semiconductor manufacturing processes.

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