Energy Efficiencies with Older Data Centers: What challenges do they face?

The environmental cost of data centers is on the rise, with energy topping the list of concerns. While these centers provide massive amounts of digital storage and grow compute power for businesses and consumers, the operational costs of these centers aren’t only measured in dollars.

Hidden Costs of Digital Technologies

Newer data centers consume a fraction of the amount of energy and other resources to run, but older centers face the challenge of delivering similar levels of service at a much higher run rate. The capital cost of new centers is staggering with an estimated $20 billion annual price tag, but the continuing energy consumption of older centers is an even greater challenge. Currently, data centers use 3 percent of the global electricity supply and pollute as much as all airlines combined. Stack that energy usage next to data needs doubling every two years and you can see the cliff approaching in the near future.

Light the World with Simple Searches

It’s easy to ignore the ecological impact of digital technologies, especially since these technologies rarely make it to the forefront. Instead of producing products, these systems run production. They are the invisible helper behind everything from hailing a cab to manufacturing a bar of soap. And, older data centers are anything but green. Google estimated that a single search used as much electricity as a 60-watt bulb for 17 seconds. That might not seem like much until you realize that this search engine process 1.2 trillion requests each year.

Simply storing and accessing data eats a lot of power, but that problem is compounded by the fact that it can cost as much to cool these systems as it does to run them.

Overcoming Energy Issues

Turning older data centers into energy efficient operations depends on two factors:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Renewable resources

For new centers, this has driven construction in areas where renewable energy or alternative cooling solutions are readily accessible like Finland, Denmark, and Sweden. For older centers, the location is already set, but that doesn’t mean energy usage must remain static. Older data centers can retrofit their existing systems with modern techniques for cooling and balancing energy usage. The Federal Energy Management Program demonstrated the viability of this option with a 31 percent drop in PUE.

Start with Modular Cooling

At Aligned Energy, we target the cooling end of the power problem. Since cooling can cost as much as operations, we focus on providing a system that helps you keep temperatures optimal without draining local water supplies or spiking the electric grid. Our industry leading 1.15 PUE helps reduce costs and drives toward the goal of energy-efficient operations. Plus, keeping water use low (our system uses 1/10 the water of historical data centers) tackles the next environmental issue looming for data centers. Update existing centers for the future using modular cooling at the point of heat and see a reduction in continued energy costs. It’s a win for everyone.  

 

The Future of Data Center Densification

You can’t talk about 5G, data networks or the “Internet of Things” (IoT) without adding a new buzzword to the conversation: densification. But it’s more than the latest trend; it comes with real, relevant value. As network providers work overtime to keep pace with increased demand on bandwidth, densification is a solution that can achieve efficiency and better customer experience.

Demystifying Densification

Densification in a word (or two) is more capacity, specifically within the same area or footprint. Think about the last concert or sporting event you attended, and the thousands, even tens of thousands, of people using their mobile devices all at once. The saturation of users clogs the network and all of a sudden you can’t upload that perfect selfie or favorite video clip. The same concept happens with data networks. And densification is the proverbial Drayno.

According to Ericsson’s Mobility Report, global mobile data traffic is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 42% from 2017 to 2023. The report states, “in response to increasing demands, the mobile industry is focusing on optimizing the spectral efficiency of LTE in existing frequency bands using new advanced functionalities, such as Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) and carrier aggregation. To solve capacity needs long-term, most countries are expected to make additional spectrum available under new national 5G regulatory regimes.”

An article in Enterprise Insights says that the “continuous increase in traffic within mobile broadband systems and continuous increase in required and requested data rates for end users will impact how cellular networks are deployed in the future, according to Telecom Insights.”

Power and cooling demands are increasing exponentially, and it’s an advantage—environmentally and for businesses—if companies can handle a lot more power in the same space. High-density data centers help drive environmental and operational cost efficiencies. The more network, compute, storage and service you can deliver per work cell cost, the better it is for your pocketbook and the planet.

What is the future of densification?

There are three major trends driving an increase in data center density:

1) Doing more within the same footprint. The opportunity for businesses with large infrastructures and deployments to gain significant efficiencies and competitiveness is a very real benefit. For example, the difference between low density (measured on average at 6KW/rack) versus high-density (measured at 12KW) data centers is enough of a swing to experience real cost savings.

2) 5G network creation and its requirements of high system capacity and high per-user data rates. This will require a densification of the radio access network or the deployment of additional network nodes. As 5G becomes more defined and eventually standardized, densification grows increasingly important for ultra-dense network configurations, especially for metro areas heavy with users, such as New York City or San Francisco.

3) Power and cooling availability and efficiency. Driving high-density data center efficiencies and lowering costs is a huge competitive advantage both in the short and long-term. Aligned Energy’s cooling technology can cool efficiently to 50 kW per rack for real cost savings in both energy and real estate.

While the future of data center densification is important to do more with less space, creating efficiencies and improved service, densification is also important because, well, we love our smartphones. And that’s not changing anytime soon.

Aligned Energy’s technologies can future-proof your data centers. One of our data centers in Dallas, Phoenix, Arizona or Salt Lake City, Utah, enables clients to take advantage of an industry-leading 1.15 PUE and run 1-50 kW per rack and mix densities within the same row. To learn more, check out our website.

Selecting the Right Data Center Design for Cost Savings

There is a sea of data center design guidelines and standards that IT leaders must wade through to select, build and implement the most effective and efficient data center. This monumental task is only compounded as IT leaders must also weigh risks to the business, such as downtime, plan for the initial capital cost and manage ongoing operational costs of the data center. (more…)

Top 5 Techniques for Improving Data Center Efficiencies

The latest Jurassic Park movie reminds us that there are still many dinosaur data centers operating today. It’s imperative that data centers modernize—not just to meet today’s demands but to exceed the expectations of the future.

By 2022, enterprise data centers will have five times more computational capabilities per kilowatt than today, according to Gartner. Data center technologies are evolving rapidly to newer levels of efficiency and demand continuous improvement. (more…)

Put the Brakes on Water-guzzling Data Centers with Aligned Energy

Learn to Save Water or Your Data Center May Tank

757 million liters. That’s about 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools–all full of crystal-clear, cool water. That’s how much freshwater a typical large, cloud data center complex with cooling towers used on average in 2017, even though fresh water is a dwindling and limited resource worldwide, especially in hot, dry areas of the globe. Clearly, data centers have a conservation challenge ahead of them.

Now, I’m sure you have heard the adage ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. So, it should come as no surprise that the industry has attempted to tackle this issue in a variety of waysbut unfortunately without much success – yet. Many of the solutions in recent years have certainly improved energy efficiency, but water usage remains high. Open cell towers are still way too commonplace for an industry that knows it has a water problem.

 And because Data Centers have this drinking problem, it is imperative the industry finds the most efficient and cost-effective solution regarding water usage – without sacrificing reliability. In short, low-water to no-water data centers are becoming a necessity for the market.  

 

Data Centers Wow Clients with Low WUEs

 First, what’s a WUE and why should you care? WUE stands for Water Usage Efficiency and it is just as important as the better known PUE (Power Efficiency Usage). The Green Grid Data Center Maturity Model (DCMM) sets standards for sustainability in several key areas including power, computing, storage, network, and yes water. They rate efficiency maturity levels on a scale from 1-5. If you are a 5, you can stop reading now…you have reached maximum efficiency. All others, keep reading.

Efficiency recommendations could include hot-aisle or cold-aisle containment to improve airflow management and reduce cooling loads, increasing the cold-aisle temperature set points, installing some form of economization to the cooling system, implementing data-center-wide monitoring and controls, conducting an energy efficiency audit, identifying and removing comatose/orphan/unused servers, and upgrading to higher-efficiency servers.

 All of these strategies translate into utility bill and operational savings that also conserve overall natural resources, such as the water used onsite for cooling, or the water used to generate the electricity which runs the data centers.

 

The Aligned Energy Solution: “Free Cooling”

Aligned Energy’s cooling system offers a unique take on the chiller/forced-air approach to data center cooling that results in an all-around more efficient and sustainable solution. 

Using a patented heat sink design that is closely coupled to the server racks, Aligned Energy has been able to not only capture the heat generated by the servers more efficiently, but transport and reject it to the atmosphere using dramatically less energy and resources than the traditional CRAH systems.

The specially designed heat sinks, coupled with the use of hot aisle containment and an advanced volumetric air flow control strategy, enable Aligned Energy to capture the heat at the source in a highly efficient manner. This solution trifecta results in a considerably lower airside static pressure drop, while minimizing bypass and maximizing the Delta T across the heat sink, which allows for dramatically less fan power and significantly higher return water temperatures.

Having higher return water temperatures is, of course, a great benefit where economization is concerned. An economizer system works the cooler outside ambient air against the warmer water to reject as much of the heat without using refrigeration.

This is where Aligned Energy’s system sets itself apart. Their CACTUS cooler combines the best of wet and dry waterside economization, with industry leading maglev trim refrigeration. Through the use of their specially designed economizer coil and evaporative assist, the cooler is able to reject the heat very efficiently using only a modicum of fan power. Because of the close approach between the entering scavenger air and leaving water, the cooler essentially wrings out as much benefit from the ambient air as possible. And since water is used very sparingly by the evaporative media, this precious resource is conserved.

When the ambient air is no longer able to provide all the cooling needs, Aligned Energy turns to centrifugal compressors for trim cooling. The system has the ability to start at very low power and can vary its output in a very granular way. One other benefit to the system is that the condensing section sits in the evaporatively cooled air stream, so when the system is running evaporative assist, it benefits from lower condensing temperatures and an improved coefficient of performance.

In addition to industry leading efficiency and sustainability, the Aligned Energy Data Center Cooling System can be setup and installed to run dry. This solution benefits customers looking to operate without the use of water, while still maintaining lower connected power and lower PUE’s.

 Want to learn more about how Aligned Energy conserves water and power resources? Get in touch with us!