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FCW : August 15, 2014
widespread practice in the federal sector, and the Center of Expertise s ultimate goal is to accomplish cooling without the use of water. "In a lot of places in the country, water is a problem," he said. With that challenge in mind, pilot projects and a few production environments use immersion cooling, in which processors are submerged in tanks lled with non-condu- cive uid. Hong Kong-based Allied Control uses 3M s Novec Engineered Fluids to cool a 500 kW system used in bitcoin mining, said Il Ji Kim, marketing manager at 3M Electron- ics Markets Materials. The system, which has been in production since October 2013, has allowed Allied Control to cut cooling costs by 95 percent. Work is underway to test the technique s potential in the federal space. Lawrence Berkeley lab plans to pilot immersion cooling under the Defense Department s Environmental Security Technology Certi cation Program in partnership with 3M, Intel, Silicon Graphics International (SGI) and Schneider Electric, among others. The system will be assembled and tested at an SGI facility in Wisconsin and then shipped to the Naval Research Laboratory. Tschudi said he believes immersion cooling will rst attract high-performance computing centers and eventu- ally trickle down to consolidated, high-density data centers. "The beauty of it is that it doesn t need any special envi- ronment," Tschudi said. "It doesn t need to be on a raised oor. So the savings should be pretty great on the infra- structure side." Kim added that immersion cooling does not generate the noise associated with fan-based air cooling, which can prove problematic for military applications. Cooling is an important contributor to a data center s energy consumption, but it s not the only one. Carnegie Mellon s Grover said networking usually accounts for 10 percent to 20 percent of a data center s energy consump- tion. Earlier this year, he was awarded a ve-year, $600,000 National Science Foundation grant to conduct research into energy consumption in large data center communica- tions networks. Grover said that regardless of the distance between serv- ers, a communication link s energy use does not change. He and his team are developing a protocol that can be built into a hardware device that would adjust itself to the communications distance to minimize energy consumption. The hurdles Investments in existing cooling systems and the cost of introducing new techniques limit the ability of organiza- tions to acquire systems with potentially greater energy- saving potential. But industry executives say agency data centers can pursue a number of no-cost or low-cost ef - ciency measures while leaving their existing cooling sys- tems in place. Raising the data center s temperature from the previous norm of 68 or 69 degrees to 72 or 73 degrees can make a big difference, said Rona Newmark, vice president of intelligent energy ef ciency strategy at EMC. "You re saving a tremendous amount of [kilowatt-hours] just by raising the temperature," she said. Another relatively simple step is tidying the cables under the raised oor to promote better air ow. Schneider Elec- tric s Evans said using blanking panels in a server rack can also have huge bene ts at minimal cost. Blanking panels put a lid on unused rack space so hot air isn t sucked back into the rack. The segregation of hot and cold air is an increasing- ly common way to improve data center ef ciency. Hot aisle/cold aisle containment techniques vent server- generated heat into an aisle that is closed off from the cold aisle. Newmark said the method con nes heat to an area where it won t create issues for equipment. In addition, the approach prevents cold air from being contaminated with hot air, which saves energy because cold air can be circulated with less air pressure, she said. ■ ExecTe c h 28 August 15, 2014 FCW.COM Next steps • Healthy competition. The Energy Department has issued a Better Buildings Challenge to promote energy ef ciency in commercial building and a Better Plants Challenge to accomplish the same thing in the industrial sector. Next up: a data center challenge. William Tschudi, leader of the High Tech and Industrial Systems Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said DOE is working with the Green Grid association on the upcoming program, which is expected to launch sometime this summer. • Greater liquidity. Experts say immersion cooling projects will likely continue this year. In addition to 3M, Green Revolution Cooling is also in the market with a dielectric uid based on white mineral oil. • More metering. Metering of data center gear is not a widespread practice, but industry and govern- ment executives believe it will become more impor- tant as data centers try to get a handle on energy use and measure the impact of new strategies. --- John Moore
July 30, 2014
August 30, 2014