As the demand for reliable data center infrastructure grows, green data center solutions have been implemented to offset the potential environmental impact of data center operations. These solutions involve the use of highly efficient technology as well as green energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal to power data center operations. In this article we will discuss a few ways modern data centers are taking advantage of advancements in sustainable data center solutions.
- Background of Green Data Centers
- Examples of Green Data Center Technology
Background of Green Data Centers
Data Centers that use highly energy-efficient technologies are commonly known as green data centers. These types of data centers measure the efficiency of any given data center using two main principles: Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE).
Power Usage Effectiveness
The PUE value was created in 2007 as a means to measure a data center’s power usage efficiency. The PUE of a given data center can be found by dividing the total power usage of a data center by the total power usage of the IT-specific therein. Ideally, this value is 1, as in the total power used by the facility is devoted entirely to the operation of IT-specific equipment such as servers and associated network components. When first implemented, the average value of data centers was between 2.5 and 3. More recent studies have shown that this value has fallen to 1.7 on average, indicating a trend towards higher efficiency over time.
Carbon Usage Effectiveness
The CUE value is another method for evaluating the energy efficiency of a given data center. This value can be calculated by dividing total CO2 emissions by the amount of power used by all IT-specific equipment. This is useful for determining how much computing can be done per unit of carbon emissions. Though similar to the PUE, the CUE is a more direct way to determine the relationship between a data center and its carbon output.
Examples of Green Data Center Technologies
In addition to the utilization of green, renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal, a number of other technological innovations have been made to reduce the overall environmental impact of data center operations.
Based on smartphone technology, the development of low-power servers has emerged as a way to balance performance with energy usage. These servers use highly efficient hardware to reduce overall energy consumption and reduce excess heat, known as waste heat.
Free Air Cooling
One of the more innovative yet simplistic green data center technologies is the use of free air cooling systems. Rather than using an energy-intensive central air conditioning unit to cool the air in the data center, free air cooling uses the exterior air to cool the environment. This air is still filtered and controlled for moisture, but no additional temperature conditioning is applied. Obviously, this is only useful for data centers in colder temperatures, but it still exists as an energy-efficient way to manage excess heat generated by data center operations.
Re-Using Waste Heat
In areas that are unable to use free air cooling to manage waste heat, some data centers have implemented technologies that facilitate the reuse of waste heat. To achieve this, the waste heat is captured and used to power or heat other facility resources. For example, a data center on a college campus can use its waste heat to heat swimming pools or buildings.
Now that you have a better understanding of how sustainable data center technologies are reshaping the landscape, you can make an even more informed decision about where you choose to host your important data.
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