Several Applewood residents and staff took a tour of the MGHPCC recently. Several of the people who attended are retired professors or administrators from the University of Massachusetts and Amherst College who began their careers in the technology field and were interested in how technology has grown and how a complex this large can minimize it’s environmental footprint.
“The MGHPCC is a data center dedicated to supporting the growing research computing needs of five of the most research-intensive universities in Massachusetts: Boston University (BU), Harvard University, MIT, Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts (UMass). Other not-for-profit research institutions may also apply to utilize the MGHPPC resources. This center being funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Cisco, EMC, the Federal New Market Tax Credit program and the five universities is the only one of its kind in the United States. There are other computer centers in the country that are similar but smaller, with only two participating universities or colleges.
The center is a 90.000 square foot, 10 Mega Watt facility, located on 8.6 acres in renovated industrial site just a few blocks from Holyoke, Massachusetts City Hall. The Holyoke site was chosen due to several factors. First they could add to and re-use an existing industrial site which would cost far less than if they created and designed a complete building from scratch. They projected they could employ local contractors and services in a depressed area. MGHPCC could also acquire low cost, reliable, green power from the City of Holyoke’s Gas and Electric Department. Making energy far less expensive than other sites considered east of the Pioneer Valley.
A facility of this type uses a lot of energy to cool the super computers housed inside and the green component of this center is its efficient cooling. The design minimizes the cooling needs by using outside air to remove heat whenever possible, reducing the need for energy-intensive chiller operations. Also, Holyoke Gas and Electric, which powers the building, generates 70% of its power from hydroelectric and solar installations making it cost effective.
The computer room which is located on the second floor is a massive room with long metal boxes which house 1,000 computer circuit boards, making up one super computer. Each University participating has a super computer that they use for research and data transmission. The room is large enough to add super computers for other research institutions.
Everyone who attended was thoroughly impressed with the building and the knowledge and enthusiasm of the staff working in this amazing complex. However, most of us had some difficulty wrapping our minds around how these intensive super computers really work.
About The Loomis Communities:
The Loomis Communities has been a visionary in exceptional senior living throughout the scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. It was the first organization in the state to open a continuing care retirement community.
With a mission of enriching the lives of older adults, The Loomis Communities offers independent living apartments and cottages, assisted living and skilled nursing care on three campuses in the Pioneer Valley: Applewood in Amherst, Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing in Springfield, and Loomis Village in South Hadley.
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