Monday, 10 September 2012

HP and Intel to build the world’s most energy efficient data centre for the US Renewable Energy Lab

imageThe US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has selected HP and Intel as partners in the building of its new data centre, designed to be the most energy efficient in the world.

NREL is the US Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. The data centre will house a new $10m high performance computer (HPC) system dedicated to energy systems integration, renewable energy research and clean energy technology research including solar photovoltaics, wind energy, electric vehicles, buildings technologies and renewable fuels.

The data centre is designed to have an annualised average power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.06 or better – Energy Star says that the average data centre operates with a much less energy efficient PUE of 1.91. One of the features of the facility is a technology that uses warm water in the computing rack to efficiently cool the servers. NREL will also use the heat generated as the primary heat source in the offices and labs of the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), where the data centre will be located. The project will help the Energy Department meet President Obama’s energy efficiency goals across the federal government.

The HPC’s petascale computing capability (one million billion calculations per second) is the world’s largest computing capability dedicated solely to renewable energy and energy efficiency research.


Review: Well the US government doesn’t do things by halves, so the largest computing facility dedicated to energy efficiency research is also the most energy efficient in the world (although I suspect one of the IT services/internet companies will go one better before long). This is just energy efficiency, though, it doesn’t necessarily mean there are less greenhouse gas emissions – that depends on what power is used in the first place. There’s no mention of the use of renewable energy, perhaps because that doesn’t impact the increasingly inadequate PUE measure.

Hopefully research by the HPC will help the US become more energy efficient overall, although you have to wonder about the end result, given that there is no acceptance of any emissions reductions targets, nationally or internationally, by the US. But at least Obama has imposed the energy efficiency goals on the federal government and some of corporate America has seen the light (although there are still many companies with their heads buried in the sand).

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