NREL Taps HP, Intel for HPC Data Center

September 7, 2012 By Paul Nastu

The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has selected Hewlett Packard and Intel to provide what it says will be the world’s most energy efficient data center.

The $10 million HPC data center, to be installed at NREL’s Golden, Colo., campus, is projected to have an annualized average power usage effectiveness rating of 1.06 or better. The average data center operates with a PUE of 1.91, according to 2009 data from the EPA’s Energy Star program.

The NREL system will also represent the world’s largest computing capability dedicated solely to renewable energy and energy efficiency research, NREL says, with the ability to carry out 1 million billion calculations per second.

NREL’s data center design is compact, resulting in short runs for both electrical and plumbing components, the agency says. The project features a technology, currently under development, that uses warm water in the computing rack to efficiently cool the servers.

NREL says the data center will also maximize the reuse of heat generated by the HPC system. The “waste heat” from the computer system will be used as the primary heat source in the other offices and lab space in the Energy Systems Integration Facility (cross section, pictured) in which the data center will reside.

It will also be possible to export excess heat to adjacent buildings and other areas of the NREL campus, the laboratory says.

The system is projected to avoid significant costs through the efficiency improvements, and will help the Energy Department implement President Barack Obama’s 2009 Executive Order on federal sustainability, which set aggressive energy efficiency goals across the federal government.

In February, Ebay announced that one of its data centers used guidelines set by non-profit environmental IT consortium the Green Grid to achieve a power usage effectiveness ratio of 1.35.

Writing for Environmental Leader in August, Jack Pouchet, director of energy initiatives at Emerson Network Power, argued that a focus on core IT systems is key when trying to drive data center efficiency.

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