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The Data Center Challenge. Data Centers 15-40x the energy intensity of typical office buildings A single rack of servers can be 20 kW $17k per year (at $.10) per rack Hundreds of racks per center Where are the opportunities? 22 data centers benchmarked. IT equipment load density.

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the data center challenge
The Data Center Challenge
  • Data Centers 15-40x the energy intensity of typical office buildings
  • A single rack of servers can be 20 kW
    • $17k per year (at $.10) per rack
    • Hundreds of racks per center
  • Where are the opportunities?
    • 22 data centers benchmarked
it equipment load density
IT equipment load density

LBNL supercomputer center

using benchmark results to find best practices
Using benchmark results to find best practices

We wondered what metrics were indicators of better performance. The ratio of IT equipment power to the total is an indicator of relative overall efficiency. Examination of individual systems and components in the centers that performed well helped to identify best practices.

percentage of power to it equipment
Percentage of power to IT equipment

We observed a wide variation in relative performance

hvac system effectiveness
HVAC system effectiveness

We observed a wide variation in HVAC performance

optimize air management
Optimize Air Management
  • Enforce hot aisle/cold aisle arrangement
  • Eliminate bypasses and short circuits
  • Reduce air flow restrictions
  • Proper floor tile arrangement
  • Proper locations of air handlers
right size the design
Right-Size the Design
  • Data Center HVAC often under-loaded
  • Ultimate load uncertain
  • Design for efficient part-load operation
    • modularity
    • variable-speed fans, pumps, compressors
  • Upsize fixed elements (pipes, ducts)
  • Upsize cooling towers
optimize the central plant
Optimize the Central Plant
  • Have one (vs. distributed cooling)
  • Medium temperature chilled water
  • Aggressive temperature resets
  • Primary-only CHW with variable flow
  • Thermal storage
  • Monitor plant efficiency
design for efficient central air handling
Design for Efficient Central Air Handling
  • Fewer, larger fans and motors
  • VAV easier
  • Central controls eliminate fighting
  • Outside-air economizers easier
use free cooling
Use Free Cooling
  • Outside-Air Economizers
    • Can be very effective (24/7 load)
    • Controversial re: contamination
    • Must consider humidity
  • Water-side Economizers
    • No contamination question
    • Best in series with chiller
improve humidity control
Improve Humidity Control
  • Eliminate inadvertent dehumidification
    • Computer load is sensible only
    • Medium-temperature chilled water
    • Humidity control at make-up air handler only
  • Use ASHRAE allowable RH and temperature
  • Eliminate equipment fighting
    • Coordinated controls on distributed AHUs
specify efficient information technology power supplies and uninterruptible power supplies
Specify Efficient Information Technology Power Supplies and Uninterruptible Power Supplies

Power supplies in IT equipment generate much of the heat. Highly efficient supplies can reduce IT equipment load by 15% or more.

UPS efficiency also varies a lot.

(Do they need the same environment as the IT equipment or can their conditions be relaxed?)

consider on site generation
Consider On-Site Generation
  • Can use waste heat for cooling
    • sorption cycles
    • typically required for cost effectiveness
  • Swaps role with utility for back-up
  • Air-quality issues
  • Sell-back options
    • complex controls required
use liquid cooling of racks and computers
Use Liquid Cooling of Racks and Computers
  • Water is 3500x more effective than air on a volume basis
  • Cooling distribution is more energy efficient
  • Water-cooled racks available now; liquid-cooled computers are coming
  • Heat rejection at a higher temperature
    • Chiller plant more efficient
    • Water-side economizer more effective
improve design operations and maintenance processes
Improve Design, Operations, and Maintenance Processes
  • Get IT and Facilities people to work together
  • Use life-cycle cost analysis
  • Document design intent
  • Introduce energy optimization early
  • Benchmark existing facilities
  • Re-commission as a regular part of maintenance
  • Air management
  • Right-sizing
  • Central plant optimization
  • Efficient air handling
  • Free cooling
  • Humidity control
  • UPSs and power supplies
  • On-site generation
  • Liquid cooling
  • Design and M&O processes

Energy benchmarking can be effective in helping to identify better performing designs and strategies. As new strategies are implemented (e.g. liquid cooling), energy benchmarking will enable comparison of performance.

Thank you!


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