Innovation in data centre engineering is helping to dramatically reduce energy use and business costs according to a new report by Norman Disney & Young (NDY). The report, which is published in the latest issue of NDY's sustainability-focused magazine Lifecycle, takes a close look at data centres and explains how recent design improvements can benefit the owners of such facilities.
Data centres, which house large-scale computing equipment, are massive users of energy. Advancements in data center engineering are leading to big savings in energy consumption, which is advantageous for both environmental and financial reasons.
The report's author Patrick Fogarty explained that in a typical data centre less than 15% of the power that leaves the power station reaches the data centre's central processing unit. "The overall efficiency is the product of a series of component efficiencies," he said. "One small saving in a component in the chain can result in a massive net gain overall."
For example, improving server power supply efficiency from 60% to 80% is an option that is readily available to most data centre operators. "But it is not typically taken, "Mr. Fogarty said. "In cases where it does occur, there is the potential to reduce overall power usage to 75% of its previous value."
Technological advancements (such as fresh air cooling) are sufficiently proven and understood to make efficiency gains of about 60% in some data centres. Further gains will be possible with greater collaboration between the IT sector and data centre sector. "The IT sector and data centre sector have traditionally had little cross fertilisation. It has only been with the recent sharp increase in load densities that the limitations of physics have forced the two parties to the negotiating table."
The rush to renewables has distracted some companies from seeking more readily available gains in energy efficiency, according to Mr. Fogarty. "Many companies have been at pains to advertise their renewable credentials but have neglected to make more effective savings by effectively engineering their system," he said. "These savings in many cases would save two orders of magnitude more in greenhouse gases."
NDY is a multi-disciplinary engineering group. Founded in 1959, NDY has Australian-based offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra. It also has offices in Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand, London and Manchester in the United Kingdom and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Copies of the latest issue of Lifecycle are available from Andrew Heathcote.
Norman Disney & Young, Brisbane
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