It could be cloud computing, literally. Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority, Huawei, and Keppel Data Centers want to see if they can create a “green” high-rise data center together. In a two-year collaboration announced this summer, the three partners will explore the technical feasibility of constructing such a building.
The hurdles aren’t insignificant. Given Singapore’s tropical climate and high humidity, cooling is a major contributor to the large energy footprints data centers already have here, IMDA points out. According to a government green data center technology roadmap from 2014, 37% of the total energy that data centers in Singapore consume on average is used to cool IT equipment.
Currently Singapore’s best-in-class multi-tenant data centers have an annual power usage effectiveness rating that goes as low as 1.44 whereas a similar data center in Nevada can achieve an annual PUE rating of 1.185, the partners said in a press release. Between energy efficiency challenges and the premium on space, data centers in Singapore are limited to 25 megawatts of power capacity or roughly 5,000 server racks.
Since the “iconic green data center” is still theoretical, there aren’t details yet about how it will actually function. However, the partners say their technical feasibility study will explore the possibility of a building more than 20 stories high that has architectural and technical features to significantly reduce energy use or increase efficiency. Their goal is to achieve a 10% to 20% improvement on Singapore’s best-in-class PUE rating.
In addition, the partners will take a closer look at internal design elements such as server racks, data halls, intelligent controls, and approaches that use physics for energy-efficient cooling like passive cooling or natural ventilation.
After publishing the roadmap in 2014, IMDA started a Green Data Center Program to boost overall data center energy efficiency through innovation, piloting technologies, and creating new sustainable computing guidelines. Last year, IMDA announced plans to test the feasibility of tropical data centers that can function in 100-degree Fahrenheit heat and 90% humidity.
Constructing smarter, more energy-efficient data centers fits into Singapore’s Smart Nation effort to support better living through technology and a 2030 climate pledge to reduce its emissions intensity.