Microsoft Improves Efficiency at Dublin Data Center

Microsoft has improved the efficiency of its Dublin data center, a facility hailed for its energy-sipping qualities when it came online in 2009.

Microsoft has lowered the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of its Dublin facility from 1.24 in its first phase to 1.17 in the newest data hall, which was added last year, reported Data Center Knowledge. PUE compares a data center’s total power use to the amount of power used by the IT equipment, a metric that shows how much is lost in distribution and conversion. The average PUE for enterprise data centers is 1.8, reported Data Center Knowledge.

Microsoft invested $130 million last year to  double the capacity of the data center, which provides online services to users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The expansion, which was driven by increased demand for Microsoft’s cloud services, was designed to use 99 percent less water for cooling purposes than traditional data centers, the company said at the time.

The data center doesn’t use chillers to cool its thousands of servers. Instead, the facility uses outside air, a technique known as free cooling.

The company is using more powerful and efficient servers and designing its data halls to store more cabinets and servers to reduce energy use. Microsoft uses white cabinets, which reflect available light and enable the company to use less overhead lighting. The company also has added a less energy-intensive backup system to provide backup cooling when there is unusually warm weather, reported Data Center Knowledge.

Microsoft has experimented with energy saving designs and the use of renewable energy at its other data centers. For example, the company’s data center research project in Cheyenne, Wyoming, will be powered by a fuel cell power plant from FuelCell Energy.

The power plant will use renewable biogas generated by a wastewater treatment facility as the fuel source. Microsoft will use the power plant project to evaluate the effectiveness of fuel cells and on-site biogas to power future sustainable data centers.

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