NASA launches new energy-efficient modular supercomputer facility

NASA has launched its new Modular Supercomputing Facility at its Ames Research Center in California. The grand opening took place last week, ushering in the arrival of a new 'modular approach to supercomputing,' the space agency said, explaining that its new facility will expand the overall power of its NASA Advanced Supercomputing center in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The NASA Advanced Supercomputing facility located at the Ames Research Center is utilized by around 1,500 engineers and scientists across the space agency's nationwide centers and elsewhere. NASA explains that its new modular innovation 'drastically' cuts the amount of water and energy needed to power the facility and keep it from overheating.

The facility's new supercomputer is called 'Aitken' and it is located in the facility's first module. NASA can expand the supercomputer to 16 modules for additional data storage and computing power, according to the space agency, which explains that Aitken is able to power 'thousands of complex simulations' at faster rates than before. This is necessary to support the Artemis Moon program, among other things.

NASA explains that the modular supercomputer facility's first module is using an efficient cooling technology designed for the Bay Area's climate — it involves circulating water alongside 'fan technology' and the use of outdoor air.

The space agency previously tested a prototype facility in 2016 and 2017 with its Electra supercomputer. Last year, the space agency found that this more efficient modular style cut around 2 million kilowatt-hours of energy usage and saved around 3 million gallons of water.