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Efficiency Opportunities for Data Center Cooling. Semi-therm February 23, 2010 Santa clara, california

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efficiency opportunities for data center cooling
Efficiency Opportunities for Data Center Cooling


February 23, 2010

Santa clara, california

Capturing efficiency opportunities in data centers has become a business imperative, allowing managers to extend the capacity of existing facilities, drive down costs, and deliver environmental quality benefits.

Mark Bramfitt, P.E.



Data centers are impacting the environment with unsustainable growth

  • Cooling efficiency opportunities
  • The long view

Engineering – first principles

Utility vantage point – includes public policy

Impact – what can you do


unity load factor
Unity Load Factor

No other utility loads look like this!


dc classifications
DC Classifications

Utility Scale: Co-location, cloud and research



Federal EPA estimates that data centers consume ~2% of US electricity, and is on pace to double every five years.


where are they
Where Are They?


utility and dc drivers
Utility and DC Drivers


Data Centers

  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Reliability
  • Risk Management
  • Load Growth
  • Competitive Rates
  • Load Management
  • Renewable Resources
  • Energy Efficiency Services
  • Smart Grid
  • Reliability
  • Capacity
  • Low Rates (Opex)
  • Capex Avoidance
  • Carbon Content


why bother looking at cooling
Why Bother Looking at Cooling?

Typical data centers have PUE of 2: half of energy use is for support equipment

Best in class DCs have PUE of 1.2 or so, largely by adopting best practices for cooling

Managing IT energy use turns out to be much tougher!


energy efficiency

Use more efficient equipment (all)

  • Use equipment more effectively
  • Make use of ambient conditions (cooling)
Energy Efficiency

Doing the same work with lower energy use


data center ee cooling

Premium efficiency equipment (chillers, pumps, fans)

  • Free cooling – use of ambient conditions
  • Variable speed drives to match load
  • Airflow management/containment
  • Liquid cooling strategies
Data Center EE – Cooling

First two are best at build, next three are outstanding retrofit opportunities


free cooling
Free Cooling

Use of ambient environment to cool data centers.

Typically air-side only, but condenser cooling can be a great strategy alone or in tandem with air-side.

The Green Grid has a great on-line tool that calculates potential energy savings for implementing air-side economizer:



free cooling economics

6000-8000 hours of free cooling in Bay Area

  • Payback is well under a year for new construction
  • Retrofit difficult and not as cost-effective (2-3 year payback)
  • Separating DC from building system, installing package units
  • Title 24 will likely mandate air-side economizer for all new DCs
Free Cooling Economics


wholly ambient cooling

Yahoo, NY – “Chicken Coop” design uses building design and prevailing wind

  • Microsoft, Dublin – Should use 100% outside air, but has DX backup
  • HP, England – reports only 20 hours of mechanical cooling
  • UC Berkeley and Stanford Research DCs – planned
Wholly Ambient Cooling

Industry leaders are building centers with no mechanical cooling whatsoever


airflow management
Airflow Management

Great retrofit strategy for isolating hot and cold aisles.

VSDs on CRAC units modulate supply flow to match equipment needs.


airflow management1
Airflow Management

The ultimate in “close loop” cooling, containerized data centers


fully containerized dc concept
Fully Containerized DC Concept

A conceptual design from Microsoft, who along with Google are leaders in large-scale containerized data center deployment.


close loop
“Close Loop”

Strategy: move heat through liquid, from as close to the source as possible


developing technologies
Developing Technologies

Solid State Data Storage

Liquid Cooling Strategies

Virtualization 2.0 – Server Management

Virtualization 2.5 – IT Workload Management

Passive Cooling Strategies for IT Equipment

Modular Airflow Isolation

Optical Data Storage

Virtualization 3.0 – Holistic Data Center

Change in Power Delivery Voltage

Heat Recovery

On-Site Generation

Cooling Storage Systems


liquid cooling last mile
Liquid Cooling – Last Mile

Proposed in 2003, this represents an “almost fan-less” morphology. CPU is effectively directly coupled to a liquid cooling system. Only secondary components are cooled using air.


thermal storage
Thermal Storage
  • Permanent load shifting
    • Thermal energy storage may lower capex and reduce oppex.


utility programs services

Typical portfolio elements:

    • Education and training
    • Technical and analysis support
    • New construction incentives
    • Retrofit incentives
    • Retrofit/purchase rebates
    • Services (air flow management)
Utility Programs & Services

Utilities throughout US are initiating and expanding energy efficiency programs for IT and data centers



Utilities can be regulated to deliver cost-effective services with lower environmental impacts.


Energy efficiency, renewables, demand response, smart grid?

Energy efficiency programs have helped keep per capita electricity consumption in California flat over the past 30 years



IT industry not accustomed to thinking about efficiency

IT mangers not rewarded or penalized for energy use

Entrenched designs and operating schemes



Manage your own growth profile – take control of capacity needs

Dramatic short-term cost savings achievable with proven technologies and measures

Time is now to “reset” the IT energy use growth curve

IT’s role in delivering environmental improvements are immense

US leadership in IT industry, and by extension…



Mark bramfitt, p.e.

3055 Gough Street, #100

San Francisco, CA 94123

Phone 415.407.6291


information technology utilities data centers  energy efficiency demand response  smart grid program design  trainingstrategic engagement impact