Advanced Computer Facilitiesfor Supercomputers

University of Edinburgh
Jan 07 - Jul 07 and Apr 12 - Feb 13

Full Project Details

Crown House Technologies (CHt) was fully responsible as principal contractor for the design and construction of all buildings and M&E services for the supercomputer facility to house the UK’s primary research supercomputers, codenamed; HECToR and ARCHER.

In addition to the HECToR & ARCHER supercomputer facilities, CHt also designed and constructed  the facilities which house the Blue Joule & DiRAC supercomputers, together representing the four most powerful in the UK.

The challenge

The programme included a mix of upgrading existing and building new computer rooms, upgrading and building new plant room space to house new M & E systems to drive not only the current supercomputers, but also support future expansion.


The significant and high density M & E systems therefore had to have complete flexibility in order to accommodate the next generation of supercomputers and this was achieved by through highly confidential meetings with leading world suppliers in order to best anticipate future supercomputer service requirements. 


Our approach


As well as the discussions with  leading supercomputer hardware suppliers, CHt worked closely with the University of Edinburgh (UoE) & STFC so that all requirements were incorporated from the outset.


CHt were a key member of the team from the outset, delivering advice early on in the process with the design team.


The engineering behind our delivery


The total computer power & cooling capacity of this facility is 8.5MW and comprised the total M & E, CCTV, access control, security, fire, gas suppression, data and BMS systems, together with high security building form.


CHt incorporated an innovative ‘free cooling’ arrangement which has delivered an annual seasonal average cooling Power Usage Effectiveness ( PUE) of 1.16. In comparison typical supercomputer facilities deliver a PUE of 1.5 / 1.6. In the winter months the cooling PUE drops to 1.05.


CHt Manufacturing was involved for the prefabrication of all pipe spools in the project.