GPUs are very efficient in terms of operations per watt. Their architecture is best suited for a gigantic bundle of similar calculations (such as a set of operations for each entry of a large blob of data). These are the tasks which also take up the most computation time especially for, not surprisingly, 3D graphics (where you need to do something to every pixel, fragment, vertex, etc.). It is also very relevant for scientific calculations, financial and other "big data" services, weather prediction, and so forth.
Tokyo Tech KFC achieves over 4 GigaFLOPs per watt of power draw from 160 Tesla K20X GPUs in its cluster. That is about 25% more calculations per watt than current leader of the Green500 (CINECA Eurora System in Italy, with 3.208 GFLOPs/W).
One interesting trait: this supercomputer will be cooled by oil immersion. NVIDIA offers passively cooled Tesla cards which, according to my understanding of how this works, suit very well to this fluid system. I am fairly certain that they remove all of the fans before dunking the servers (I figured they would be left on).
By the way, was it intentional to name computers dunked in giant vats of heat-conducting oil, "KFC"?
Intel has done a similar test, which we reported on last September, submerging numerous servers for over a year. Another benefit of being green is that you are not nearly as concerned about air conditioning.
NVIDIA is actually taking it to the practical market with another nice supercomputer win.
Other NVIDIA Supercomputing News:
the big win for nvidia is all
the big win for nvidia is all top 10 in the 500Green is powered by nvidia Tesla
Would you Like some GPU
Would you Like some GPU accelerators with that?