High Performance Computing In Finland
Originally published in ficolo.com in 2020.
High Performance Computing (HPC) has emerged as the platform of choice for diverse use cases that require large amounts of processing power. Ranging from financial modeling and research analytics to simulation of car models, the technology holds great potential speed up development in many industries. Artificial intelligence and machine learning require massive amounts of data exceptionally fast and HPC is able to deliver this.
High Performance Computing is about rack density – packing the latest processors, cooling and power technologies into a small area to produce a vast amount of computing power. Density is measured with the amount of electricity used by the computing equipment –average rack density has steadily increased throughout the years. HPC involves thousands of processors working in parallel to analyze vast amounts of data in real time. In HPC architecture, servers are networked together into a cluster, in which multiple programs and algorithms can be run simultaneously. As the final part of the cluster, data storage captures the output of the networked servers. With all three components working seamlessly together, HPC is able to complete diverse sets of tasks. The storage has to be able to feed and digest data to and from the servers as quickly as it is processed, and if the networking component doesn’t deliver it hinders the performance of the other two components.
The rack density of high performance computing deployments can require up to 30kW or more electricity, with future cases in planning going beyond 80kW. With these deployments the cooling method has to be carefully planned to keep the costs down. For high density racks, liquid cooling offers the most effective heat conduction, but with the right design air cooling can support quite high density as well.
Finland as HPC Location
HPC components generate a considerable amount of heat and place requirements on power supply reliability and availability of affordable green energy. Finland’s cool climate, abundance of sustainable energy and great connectivity make it a very attractive location.
The Nordic Council of Ministers published a report that quantifies the competitiveness of Nordics for different data center customers. For colocation and high performance computing customers the report found that the most important deciding factors when choosing the location were:
- reliable power supply (8.7/10)
- international data connectivity (8.7/10)
- competent workforce (7.8)
- low energy prices (7.8)
- political stability (7.7)
It is safe to say that Finland has all these covered. Additionally there are a number of considerations, such as frequency of natural disasters or extreme storms, ease of doing business, additional services, stable Euro as currency, local presence of hardware and network vendor support, direct flights in case your engineers will be spending time on the site… and more. Many of these make it attractive to choose a data center in a capital region.
Data Center Service Taxes
Tax laws can be hurdles to navigate with data center services as different service components may have different bases for taxation. There are also big differences between countries regarding reclaiming VAT. The transparency of Finnish tax laws offers the predictability that is so important for larger operations. Here you know exactly how the value added tax works and what you can reclaim. We have many years of experience with Finnish tax laws and has worked with multiple international customers to find the right solutions. We know how the VAT works with electricity, goods imports or storage and whether there are any exceptions that can be applied to your company.
Finland’s competitiveness as a location for HPC projects will only increase in the future. The electricity price is already one of the lowest in Europe and the country’s government is actively removing restrictions on digital economy and has included an energy tax rate cut in its program as a part of broader tax reform package. The reduction is on track and planned to come into force in 2021 and offers significant savings on electricity costs.
HPC requires specialist know-how on energy distribution and cooling. Data center experts understand the demands the super dense racks place on power capacity and cooling and have the expertise to ensure consistent, resilient and redundant power to individual racks of HPC servers. If you are looking for a location for your HPC operation, we would be happy to assist you. The Air data center has a unique cell-based power and cooling design that provides flexibility to serve both classic colocation and HPC from multi-purpose whitespace. Our experience guarantees that your operation’s design, build and going live will be as quick and frictionless as possible