1 Watt Performance, 0.3 Watt Cooling

Feature Article | October 7, 2009 by Benjamin Blaume

Weniger Kühlung: Intel und T-Systems mit DataCenter 2020 (Foto: Benjamin Blaume)

Less cooling: Intel and T-Systems research the DataCenter 2020

In the test lab, the 20-strong team of researchers – with 10 from T-Systems and 10 from Intel – can measure and control all the relevant parameters in server operations. This means that variables such as room temperature, room volume, ceiling height, power supply (alternating current or direct current), humidity, and cooling types can be adjusted. The eight server racks installed at the start of testing are equipped with 180 Xeon blade servers from 2004/2005, which are currently deployed in many data centers. After these tests have been completed, it will be the turn of Intel’s current Xeon processor 5500 series.

The objective of the new research data center is to ascertain the optimal conditions for operating servers in data centers. This should enable a reduction in the enormous electricity and cooling costs for facilities, which currently consume almost as much energy as the computer infrastructures themselves. The ultimate goal is a PUE (power usage effectiveness) score of 1.3. In other words, for each watt of electricity that is used in the data center, only 0.3 watts are required for cooling and other power.

Wasserkühlung für Serverracks von Intel und T-Systems

Water cooling for server racks (photo: Benjamin Blaume)

Wasserkühlung für Serverraum im Keller des DataCenter 2020

Water pipes for the cooling of the data center (photo: Benjamin Blaume)

This not only saves money, it also helps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Currently, the IT sector generates around 2% of the world’s carbon dioxide –just as much as the aeronautical industry. “This project is the first and only one worldwide that comprehensively examines the issue of energy efficiency in data centers,” says Olaf Heyden, member of T-Systems board of management and head of ICT Operations.

Christian Morales, vice president of the Intel Sales and Marketing Group and general manager for EMEA, sees the energy efficiency of IT as one of the key topics for the future. New technologies mean that an increasing number of products will access the Internet, which in turn will lead to ever bigger data centers. “This close cooperation enables Intel to find out faster and in greater detail what customers need – and we at Intel can then align our semiconductor development accordingly,” says Morales. “Furthermore, we can incorporate the findings for developing, building, and running a ‘data center of the future’ into our own data centers.”

According to Heyden, the construction costs for the research data center were less than ten million euros. He adds that no state subsidies were applied for. The project was launched at CeBIT 2008.

Manuel Mair, T-Systems project lead for DataCenter 2020, estimates that the first findings could be implemented in existing data centers in around six months’ time. Intel and T-Systems don’t want to keep the results under wraps. Instead, they will publish them promptly on the project’s Web site for everyone to read.

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