Energy Saving Ideas for Data Centres

Wednesday 3rd July 2013 •
Billy Law-Bregan, Communications Officer

As power costs continue to increase and Carbon taxes kick in, data centre companies are always looking for any ways to reduce their power consumption. At Node4 we have implemented a few energy saving ideas in our new 200 rack data hall in DC4 Northampton.

Our target PuE (the ratio of Total Power consumption to IT power consumption – a standard measure of data centre efficiency) for Northampton is 1.3. Many older Data Centres can have PuEs as high as 2 or more. This means that ½ of the power consumed is not being used to run the IT load and is essentially wasted money.

 So what are we doing differently at Node4?

Cooling is the biggest area for potential cost saving. An efficient cooling system will provide air at the correct temperature where it’s needed by the IT equipment. We employ a few tricks to make sure this is done as effectively as possible

Cold Aisle Containment

northampton cold aisle

Node4 were one of the 1st data centres in the UK to use full cold aisle containment and we are continuing this in our new hall. The principle is very simple: we use a Perspex roof, sliding doors and blanking panels to contain the cool air from our air conditioning in a corridor in front of the IT equipment. This avoids cold supply and warm return air mixing together, reducing the efficiency of the cooling. Effective cold aisle containment lets us run higher supply water temperatures and lower fan speeds.

CoolWall

Something new in Hall 2 is a system called CoolWall. Traditional Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) units are big boxes containing a set of fans and a copper coil which has cold water from the chillers running through it. The fans drag the air across this coil, reducing the temperature as it goes. Straightforward enough.

The CoolWall uses the exact same principle but separates the coil from the fans. We will combine 2 or 3 of these coils together to form a single, giant CRAC unit.

What are the advantages of this?

  • Installation is quicker, cleaner and cheaper
  • The surface area of the coil is much larger meaning more cooling capacity at the same water temperature.
  • The fans are easily accessible for maintenance
  • We can add as many as are needed to pressurise the floor void. Node4 will install a high number of fans but run them at very low speeds for extra efficiency (doubling the fan speed uses 8 times the electricity).

LED Lighting

We have installed LED lighting panels throughout Hall 2. These have several advantages over fluorescent tubes.

  • Zero maintenance. These panels should last for 20,000 hours or more.
  • Better light output. The light from the panels is brighter and wider spread giving better illumination in front of and behind the racks. We’ve installed panels right above the racks in the cold aisles to make it really easy for people to see what they are doing.
  • Lower power consumption. LEDs use less power than fluorescent tubes or incandescent bulbs and put out much less heat. Using LEDs will take the equivalent of a full rack’s worth of heat out of the room.
  • Combined with PIR sensors, we will minimise the amount of time the LED panels are actually on for, if nobody is in the data hall, we won’t waste any power lighting it.

Node4 have invested heavily in energy efficient infrastructure throughout our data centres. As technology moves on, we are always looking at ways to improve this efficiency. Some will be retrofit additions to existing facilities and some will be done as part of a new build or extension to a site.

For more information on our data centres, download our data centre brochure.

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