In Pictures: Astronaut Launches HP’s Water-Cooled Apollo

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Space legend Story Musgrave unveils HP’s water-cooled Apollo 8000 supercomputer

At HP Discover in Las Vegas, HP took the wraps off the Apollo 8000, a high performance computing (HPC) server cooled by warm water.

It’s not the first water-cooled supercomputer (IBM’s iDataplex is installed in Germany’s SuperMUC), but HP is proud of its design, using a “dry disconnect” between the computing modules and the water cooling system, so the computer can be easily maintained, while a separate circuit delivers hot water at 40C. HP also persuaded a genuine astronaut to launch the system.

Story Musgrave AstronautGreen energy and an astronaut

The Apollo 8000 was unveiled at Discover by Story Musgrave, a retired astronaut with several shuttle missions and the repair of the Hubble Telescope to his credit. Musgrave discussed appropriate technology and the importance of reliability over anything fancy when it has to go to space – implying that Apollo 8000 has these virtues.

The system was created for the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which has a contract for a steady supply of hot water from the system. This means it can switch off other heating supplies and save energy.

This does mean that, if NREL ever runs out of simluations and calculations to do, the Apollo will stay switched on to keep the building warm. NREL’s Bobi Garrett told us this isn’t happening any time soon.

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HP Apollo 8000 Water Cooled Supercomputer

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HP Apollo 8000 Supercomputer
And HP's Janet Bartleson uses heat pipes to keep a cool head at the Apollo 8000 launch

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