IBM has unveiled a green data center at Syracuse University that it says will serve as a showcase for world-class innovations in energy-efficient information technology.
The 12,000 square foot data center, which was first announced in May 2009, cost $12.4 million to construct and features an on-site generation system for electricity, heating and cooling. It also incorporates IBM's latest energy-efficient servers, computer cooling technology and system management software.
When fully operational, the data center is expected to consume 50 percent less energy than a typical data center in operation today.
"Together, IBM and Syracuse are tackling a significant problem - how to address the skyrocketing amount of energy used by today's data centers, which is impacting businesses and institutions of all sizes," Vijay Lund, an IBM software VP said in a statement. "We looked beyond conventional wisdom and addressed the broader issues of where and how to generate the electricity, how to cool the data center and how to make the computers more effective and efficient."
The data center features an on-site electrical "tri-generation system" that uses natural gas-fueled turbines to generate all the electricity for the center as well as meeting the cooling requirements of the servers. IBM says the center will be able to operate completely off the electrical grid.
IBM and Syracuse worked together to create a liquid cooling system that uses absorption chillers to convert exhaust heat from the natural gas turbines into chilled water. Server racks incorporate "cooling doors" that use the chilled water to remove heat from each rack more efficiently than conventional techniques. Sensors have been installed to monitor server temperatures and more efficiently tailor the amount of cooling fluids required at each server.
The project also incorporates a direct current (DC) power distribution system. In a typical data center, alternate current (AC) electricity is delivered by a central power plant from the electricity grid and then converted to DC to power the servers. Power is lost in the conversion process.
By directly generating DC power on site, IBM says transmission and conversion losses are eliminated.
The growing demand for computing and Internet services has resulted in a huge growth in the number of data centers, and that in turn is creating an alarming increase in electricity usage. A typical data center uses up to 30 times more energy than a typical office building, and total data center energy consumption is doubling every five years.
Syracuse University will use the new data center as its primary computing facility. However, it will also serve as a test bed for data center optimization.
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