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Computers are getting smaller and smaller, so it shouldn’t be surprising if you run into a super computer which might just be as small as a sugar cube! Researchers at IBM’s Zurich Labs have reportedly developed a prototype of a supercomputer called the Aquasar. Although Aquasar is not the size of a sugar cube as you might expect, it uses an innovative technique that uses a water-cooling principle to keep the system from overheating.

IBM says that this water-cooling technology will be effective and can work in highly energy efficient smaller super computers. Major scientists and developers have run into road blocks when it comes to cooling of the processors in supercomputers. Although small, the cooling systems make up about 300% of the computers actual size. Processors today are cooled off by air but IBM says using water to cool off a processor is 4,000 times more efficient than using air.

The head of the Laboratory of Thermodynamics in New Technologies, Dimos Poulikakos said in an interview, “With Aquasar, we make an important contribution to the development of sustainable high performance computers and computer system. In the future it will be important to measure how efficiently a computer is per watt and per gram of equivalent CO2 production.”

As long as the processors remain well below 185 degrees Fahrenheit, the system will operate normally. IBM calls these water cooling systems as “micro-channel liquid coolers” which are tiny tubes full of water. Every processor in the computer has these tubes directly attached to them, so no processor in the system overheats.

IBM says Aquasar is almost 50 percent more efficient than the world’s most powerful supercomputers. The Aquasar prototype clocked up nearly half again as much, at 1.1 billion operations per second. IBM is now working on making a miniature version of the Aquasar. In an interview with BBC, Mark Stromberg who is a principal research analyst at Gartner said, “We currently have built this Aquasar system that’s one rack full of processors. We plan that 10 to 15 years from now, we can collapse such a system in to one sugar cube – we’re going to have a supercomputer in a sugar cube.”

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