Nor-Tech Innovates Affordable Office Supercomputers

Share Article

Nor-Tech has developed the first affordable supercomputers designed to be used in an office, rather than a datacenter.

David Bollig, President and CEO of Nor-Tech

David Bollig, President and CEO of Nor-Tech

We have designed what we think is a Goldilocks solution: the right amount of power, the right price, and the right amount of expandability for today’s offices.

Nor-Tech (Northern Technologies) has developed a line of affordable supercomputers designed to be used in an office, rather than a datacenter. Versions include ultra-quiet clusters, open source software clusters, ruggedized portable clusters and clusters with a combination of those features.

Nor-Tech President and CEO David Bollig said, “We realized for a long time that there was a void in the market for organizations looking for supercomputing power in a cluster that could reside outside a datacenter with a cost well below a traditional supercomputer. We have designed what we think is a Goldilocks solution: the right amount of power, the right price, and the right amount of expandability for today’s offices.”

One of the primary roadblocks to upgrading from a workstation to a cluster until now has been noise. Nor-Tech has solved this problem by introducing a low-noise cluster cabinet that reduces the sound to almost imperceptible white noise. For reference, a single blade server produces about 78dBA of noise; 70dBA is equivalent to the volume of a vacuum cleaner. Removing 28.5dBA, which is what the quiet cluster cabinet does, reduces the sound to a level that is halfway between normal conversation and a whisper. The record-breaking sound reduction factor was independently verified by MIRA Test Laboratories, which conducts sound power measurement in accordance with ISO3744.Great candidates for this solution include:

  • Engineering groups that need to speed up simulation/modeling processing by upgrading from a workstation to a cluster, but have no datacenter to locate the cluster in.
  • Businesses that have a datacenter but need a mobile, versatile cluster that can be shared outside the datacenter.

Many organizations that very much need cluster computing power, but are on tight budgets can’t afford a cluster. So they keep adding workstations as they need more power, which in itself gets to be very expensive. Nor-Tech’s open source software clusters reduce the cost of operating a cluster by eliminating recurring software licensing fees. This brings clusters within the reach of most scientific and research organizations. Features of these open source software clusters include: no recurring licensing fees; integration with OpenFOAM and ParaView; quiet operation; they run on standard power; and they have wheels--so they can be used anywhere; in an office, classroom, laboratory, etc.

OpenFOAM is a CFD application developed primarily by ESI’s OpenCFD Ltd. It was created in the 1980s and first released in 2004. It has a large user base across most areas of engineering and science--both commercial and academic organizations. OpenFOAM includes a full array of tools that solve anything from complex fluid flows involving chemical reactions, turbulence, and heat transfer to acoustics, solid mechanics, and electromagnetics.

ParaView is a multi-platform data analysis and visualization application that was first released in 2002. Users can quickly build visualizations to analyze their data using qualitative and quantitative techniques. The data exploration can be done interactively in 3D or programmatically using ParaView’s batch processing capabilities. ParaView was developed to analyze extremely large datasets (petascale) using distributed memory computing resources.

Nor-Tech’s ruggedized portable clusters bring supercomputing capacity to locations where HPC couldn’t go before. This is ideal for any application that involves gathering and preprocessing data at multiple sites. It is also a good solution for remote applications that lack the infrastructure necessary for traditional HPCs.

The configurable cluster is energy efficient and runs quietly with low heat generation, with the highest available power at the lowest possible consumption—up to 128 cores on just two 120VAC 20-amp circuits. The ruggedized chassis meets applicable sections of military standards such as MIL-STD-108, MIL-STD648, and MIL-STD-810.

Shock absorbers line the chassis, keeping the system protected from sudden impact as well as sustained vibration. Lockable casters roll smoothly--even over rough terrain--and can be removed and stored inside the unit. End caps seal the unit while in transit and allow easy access to the components from both sides when removed. Users roll it out of the crate, detach the two end caps, and plug it in almost anywhere power is available. The entire unit can be moved by one person.

Nor-Tech built its reputation on the industry’s easiest-to-deploy cluster solutions and guaranteed no wait time support. The company designed and built the HPC cluster that enabled the first detection of a gravitational wave—a discovery destined to change history. In addition to HPC clusters, Nor-Tech’s custom technology includes workstations, desktops, and servers for a range of applications including CAE, CFD, and FEA. Clients include some of the most respected organizations in the world. Nor-Tech engineers average 20+ years of experience and are responsible for significant high performance computing innovations. The company has been in business since 1998 and is headquartered in Burnsville, Minn. just outside of Minneapolis. To contact Nor-Tech call 952-808-1000/toll free: 877-808-1010 or visit Full release at:

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Jeanna Rensselar
Follow >

Visit website


Nor-Tech logo