Sign In

Communications of the ACM

ACM News

Grants Support Design of ­ltra-Efficient 'green' Data Center

View as: Print Mobile App Share:
'green' data center

Credit: General Electric Co.

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego and CLUMEQ, a Canadian High Performance Computing consortium led by McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, have been awarded grants from Canada's Advanced Research and Innovation Network (CANARIE) and the Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership to design an ultra-efficient data center as part of a program to promote 'green' IT initiatives.

Under the partnership, SDSC and CLUMEQ/McGill University researchers will design and build a business case and a conceptual design for a jointly-managed, ultra-efficient data center to be built in Quebec, which has an abundance of green hydroelectric power and an ideally suited cool climate that can provide 'free cooling' to the data center's high-performance computer systems for much of the year. Hydro Quebec, Quebec's state-owned utility, Rumsey Engineering of Oakland, CA, and ClimateCHECK, an Ottawa-based firm specializing in green house gas emission standards and measurement, are collaborating on the project.

Researchers from SDSC and CLUMEQ will be presenting the preliminary conceptual design at the upcoming GSMI Green Data Center Conference June 15-17 at SDSC.

Such a data center would offer energy-efficient co-location and managed hosting services to the high-performance computing and research communities served by the University of California and through CLUMEQ to Canadian researchers. The current scalable data center design would achieve a "power usage effectiveness" ratio, or PUE, of 1.1 or lower by leveraging cutting-edge technologies such as natural thermal storage through a man-made ice pond.

"At SDSC we operate one of the most efficient facilities in the region and, through various efficiency projects, have achieved a PUE of 1.35," says Dallas Thornton, SDSC's Division Director of Cyber-Infrastructure Services. "This project focuses on designing an even more efficient facility that capitalizes on unique site capabilities available in Quebec, while developing a business model for the bilateral effort's success. This is an exciting project that will benefit both Canadians and Californians."

A PUE ratio is a commonly used metric calculated as the ratio between a data center's total power consumption and power used by the IT equipment within the center. Typical data centers have PUEs of 1.7 to 2.0, well-managed data centers typically have PUEs of 1.4 to 1.6, and aggressively managed operations strive to achieve lower ratios, with the ultimate goal of reaching 1.0, a completely lossless and energy-efficient data center.

The joint design study comes as power consumption due to IT equipment and data centers continues to grow at a rapid pace. In a 2007 report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Congress on data center efficiency, it was estimated that power consumption was about 61 billion kilowatt hours in 2006, or 1.5 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption. This consumption is expected to double by 2011. Power and cooling costs continue to be a growing percentage of the overall costs of IT for all organizations, including academic institutions.

SDSC and UC San Diego have been leaders in promoting energy-efficient and sustainability practices throughout the campus, from building design and transportation alternatives to conservation and recycling. UC San Diego is one of the leading universities investigating energy efficiency in information technology and data centers, and is the only university member of Green Grid, an international consortium dedicated to reducing energy usage at data centers.

Additional support for the project was received from CANARIE, Canada's Advanced Research and Innovation Network. The SDSC/McGill University grant is part of CANARIE's $2.4 million (Canadian) funding plan for four ground-breaking IT projects aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of the information and communications technologies (ICT) sector, and measuring the impact of ICT and cyberinfrastructure on university electric consumption. "Canada is being very aggressive in developing new green IT strategies for computing and communications that mesh well with long standing traditions of environmental responsibility and technological development," says Jorge Vinals, director of CLUMEQ.



No entries found