Microsoft and Cray collaborating on a low-power super-cloud design

Supercomputers are supposed to solve big problems that require massive computations. Now Microsoft and Cray have put together a deal that is supposed to solve one of the biggest problems of all: how to reduce energy consumption in a meaningful way.

The specifics of the deal: Cray’s custom engineering group will work with Microsoft Research to prototype a supercomputing architecture that “combines super efficient power delivery, high-density packaging and innovative cooling technologies. This solution is intended to significantly reduce facility, power and hardware costs.”

The power draw of any large data center is substantial. Gartner has estimated that data centers are responsible for 23 percent of the CO2 emissions that are produced by the IT industry. It said that much of the power consumption could be reduced with more intelligent designs that generate less heat, leading to a reduced need for air-conditioning, for example.

Cray said the project has the potential to deliver significant cost savings in the operation of a cloud data center while leading to performance gains.

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