HPC Cluster Blog – Powering Your Cluster

Posted on January 24, 2014

Powering Your Cluster

One item our customers often overlook when exploring the idea of a cluster purchase is their power requirements. Yet this is one of the most important elements of a cluster purchase, since it can affect cost, rack space and even the physical environment in which the cluster will be housed.

For starters, server rooms typically provide different receptacles than standard 120V household outlets. We often see 208V in U.S. server rooms, but even then, there are different plug types available: Common examples are NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) L6-20 or L6-30, which identify the plug configuration. Three-phase power, often used in commercial buildings, is often another term encountered when planning for cluster power.

Once you’ve determined the power type, your next decision will be whether or not to use a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). UPS’s provide battery power to keep a cluster, or certain components of it, running in the event of an electrical disruption. Some server rooms already have built-in backup power available, in which case the purchase of a UPS is probably not necessary. But if keeping the cluster running is critical, we usually recommend at least connecting a cluster head node and switches to a UPS in order to avoid data loss.

The best first step to take when considering your cluster power needs is to talk to your facilities manager, IT technician or electrician. He or she should be able to explain what power is available at your location and what components you will need.  If you have any questions regarding this important topic, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].

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