Two blue pipes run parallel to each other with green pipe connectors.

DoIT is expanding the capacity of chilled water pipes in Telecom to support liquid cooling of the new Hellbender cluster, and expand cooling for the production floor including the new Research Data Ecosystem.

What does it take to have the next generation of high-performance computing?

Two words: liquid cooling.

A collaborative effort is underway to upgrade the existing chilled water and electrical subsystems that will support Mizzou’s advanced High Performance Center (HPC) environment, known as Hellbender. 

Hellbender will enhance researchers’ ability to transfer and store data at a faster pace. This equipment was purchased as part of MizzouForward, a comprehensive strategy to invest in and enhance MU’s research and education missions.

The new HPC environment will be based in the telecommunications building, which is the largest user of chilled water and electricity for servers and computing purposes on campus. Set to power-on this spring, Hellbender is one of the Division of Information Technology’s largest undertakings to ensure researchers can go further, faster.

This semester, the IT Research Support Solutions (IT RSS) team plans to onboard a pilot team of researchers to use Hellbender, which will eventually expand to a wider range of researchers across the campus.

“Before any of this could happen, we have to make room for the expansion,” said Bill McIntosh, senior manager of Technical Services. “We had to remove the former telecommunications system from the building, which had been providing phone service to the campus community since the early ‘80s.”

This involved working with the local telephone company to turn off the lines along with collaborating with telecom technicians, network engineers, plumbers, delivery services and a host of subcontractors managed through the campus operations team.

Without chilled water consistently flowing through the building, located at the corner of College Avenue and Ashland Road, the data center could heat up to dangerously high levels, destroy servers and interrupt service to users beyond the campus.

“Our goal is to expand services while keeping the data center functioning and not adversely impacting our users,” McIntosh said.

Derick Laubert, construction manager in campus operations, added, “This building is so critical to the university and its infrastructure and its daily operations. It’s very important that we plan and pre-plan before doing something. It’s been going well so far.”

IT RSS is partially a result of a $7 million investment toward enhancing research technology and associated support services systemwide through MizzouForward.