Facebook data center

Large Data Centers More Efficient than Smaller Counterparts

Facebook data centerGiant flagship data centers are actually more energy efficient than small computer facilities, a doctoral thesis claims.

Mikko Pervilä’s Data Center Energy Retrofits discusses the features of modern data centers through both case studies and global figures. Pervilä is a candidate at the University of Helsinki.

Traditionally, computers and their maintenance systems have been cooled down with mechanical ventilation, resulting in additional electricity consumption. Cloud services have proven to be so financially lucrative that the additional energy use has been considered an acceptable expense in relation to the value of the services. But energy efficiency has become an imperative.

The individual case studies focus on the facilities of major corporations. The global figures provide an overview of the common sizes of server rooms, and indicate that most server facilities are quite small and probably have poorer energy efficiency than the massive flagship data centers. According to Pervilä, major data centers such as those of Microsoft in Dublin and Quincy, Google in Saint-Ghislain and Hamina, Finland, Yahoo in Lockport, HP in Wynyard and Facebook in Prineville, are much alike, as they seek to minimize extraneous energy consumption by using adjacent natural cooling sources, such as bodies of water.

The dissertation suggests a number of retrofit techniques for cooling data centers. These techniques range from the efficient delivery of ventilation air using free air cooling to exploiting exhaust heat in the experimental greenhouse on the Kumpula Science Campus in Helsinki, Finland.


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