Power Electronics

Precision Cooling Reduces Data Center Power Consumption

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has announced a new energy management system and key initiatives to bridge the gap between facilities and IT to help customers dramatically reduce data center operating costs. According to John Sontag, Director of Infrastructure Virtualization and Data Center Architecture, between 60% and 70% of a data center’s power consumption is used for cooling. The Dynamic Smart Cooling (DSC) system is specifically designed to reduce this cost.

The system uses advanced software residing in an intelligent control node to continuously adjust air conditioning settings based on real-time air-temperature measurements from a network of sensors deployed on IT racks. Using information from the sensors, the system delivers cooling where it is needed.

Due to its positive impact on the environment as well as data center operating costs, DSC will be adopted by HP’s own IT organization. This effort will replace 186 data centers with three pairs of consolidated data centers to be located in Austin, Houston and Atlanta. As may be apparent, average temperature is not a first-order consideration in the site selection process. Rather, each of these cities was chosen for its optimum balance of low-cost energy, network accessibility, a skilled workforce and real-estate costs.

DSC is also an important addition to HP’s Adaptive Infrastructure offering, which is the foundation for building next-generation data centers. HP is creating a partner program through which the company will work with leading architecture, engineering, equipment, technology, utility, real estate and service companies to accelerate adoption of energy efficiency solutions for next-generation data centers.

Sontag estimates that a modern data center of 10,000 sq. ft. might consume 2 MW. DSC could potentially save this facility 40% of its cooling costs, or about $500,000. This amount rises to approximately $1 Million for either a 5-MW, 30,000-ft2 facility (saving 30% of its total cooling cost) or a 10-MW, 35,000-ft2 data center (representing a 20% savings in total cooling costs).

The power consumed by a data center can vary as much as 2-to-1 between full-power and idle states. The value of DSC is fully realized in these large and widely fluctuating loads.

HP also has formed an internal Smart Data Center design team that leverages internal talent to lower the total cost of data center ownership through flexible power and cooling management. The effort is backed by an investment of more than $10 million per year and is based on a portfolio of more than 1000 existing patents. HP’s DSC is expected to be available worldwide in the third quarter of 2007.

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