Mean and green

Can computing clean up its act?

The industry consumes as much electricity as Britain—and rising

“WHAT YOU notice first is how silent it is,” says Kimmo Koski, the boss of the Finnish IT Centre for Science. Dr Koski is describing LUMI—Finnish for “snow”—the most powerful supercomputer in Europe, which sits 250km south of the Arctic Circle in the town of Kajaani in Finland.

LUMI, which was inaugurated last year, is used for everything from climate modelling to searching for new drugs. It has tens of thousands of individual processors and is capable of performing up to 429 quadrillion calculations every second. That makes it the third-most-powerful supercomputer in the world. Powered by hydroelectricity, and with its waste heat used to help warm homes in Kajaani, it even boasts negative emissions of carbon dioxide.

LUMI offers a glimpse of the future of high-performance computing (HPC), both on dedicated supercomputers and in the cloud infrastructure that runs much of the internet. Over the…