University of Melbourne Data Centre

Housed at the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI) and hosted by the University of Melbourne, the IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer installed at the University is a powerful tool for researchers studying life sciences.

A.G. Coombs Projects was engaged to provide a reliable, safe, efficient and low maintenance cooling system, and undertook a mechanical works upgrade of the entire infrastructure supporting the IBM Blue Gene/Q.

The project included the installation of additional chilled water capacity and associated insulated piping, headers, pumps and controls required for optimal operational performance. Chilled water cooling distribution units were installed in the Peak Computing Facility data hall, to cater for the increased heat load – a standard Data Centre computer rack uses an average 5 to 10kW of power, and virtually all this energy is transferred to heat; in extreme density computing, each of the four the IBM Blue Gene/Q racks can use up to 100kW of power.

Integrated commissioning of the new cooling system, including the calibration and close monitoring of the pump operation, was undertaken to guarantee maximum operational efficiency.

We are impressed by A.G. Coombs’ ability to demonstrate a broad knowledge and understanding of Data Centre functionality. Additionally, we were particularly pleased with the quality of services delivered by the A.G. Coombs team. A high level of support was exhibited across the entire project, which helped to ensure smooth project implementation and favourable results within an often challenging and tight schedule that was critical to our requirements.

Anton Borg, Project Manager, Property & Campus Services, The University of Melbourne

Project Overview

Project Name: University of Melbourne Data Centre

Location: VIC

Client: University of Melbourne

Year Completed: 2012

Project Type

Construction – cooling system


  • Successful delivery of a comprehensively safe, reliable and energy efficient cooling system designed to meet the unique requirements of the supercomputer.
  • Project delivered on time against a very tight and critical timeframe.


  • In late 2011, and for the third time, the Green500 ranked IBM Blue Gene/Q as the world’s most energy efficient supercomputer ( In conjunction with A.G. Coombs’ energy efficient cooling solution, the University of Melbourne’s Peak Computing Facility comprises one of the most energy efficient supercomputing installations in the world.

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