‘So cool’ approach promises big payback

Article Type:          Published: 12-2013         Views: 1963   



A number of high-profile organisations have now announced their support for the European Commission-backed ‘CoolEmAll’ project, which promises big ‘green’ returns

There’s a new cool approach to making data centres more energy efficient – and some heavy hitters are throwing their weight behind the scheme.

CoolEmAll aims to increase understanding about the interaction between IT hardware, software (applications and workloads) and power/cooling systems within data centres. The initiative is developing a number of tools, blueprints and other resources to help data centre designers, operator, and technology suppliers to build and run more energy-efficient facilities and equipment.

The European Commission-funded project has taken a holistic approach to the complex problem of how to make data centres more energy, and resource, efficient, developing a range of tools to enable data centre designers, operators, suppliers and researchers to plan and operate facilities more efficiently. The participants in the project include a range of scientific and commercial organisations with expertise in data centres, high performance computing, energy-efficient server design and energy-efficient metrics.

The main goal of CoolEmAll is to provide advanced simulation, visualisation and decision support tools, along with blueprints of computing building blocks for modular data centre environments. Once developed, these tools and blueprints should help to minimise the energy consumption, and consequently the CO2 emissions, of the whole IT infrastructure with related facilities. This will be achieved by:

• Design of diverse types of computing building blocks (ComputeBox Blueprints), well defined by energy efficiency metrics
• Development of simulation, visualisation and decision support toolkit (SVD Toolkit) that will enable analysis and optimisation of IT infrastructures built of these building blocks

Both computing boxes and the toolkit should take into account three aspects that have major impact on actual energy consumption: cooling model, application properties, and workload and resource management policies.

To this end, the energy efficiency of computing building blocks will be precisely defined by a set of novel metrics expressing relations between the energy efficiency and essential factors listed above. In addition to common static approaches, the CoolEmAll platform will enable studies of dynamic states of IT infrastructures, based on changing workloads, management policies, cooling method and ambient temperature.

The expected results of the project include:

• Data centre monitoring, simulation and visualisation software
• Designs of energy efficient IT hardware
• Contribution to existing (and help define new) energy efficiency metrics.

Leading data centre technology suppliers, design engineers and scientific research organisations have now joined the project’s advisory board, bringing exceptional expertise in green data centres. Members include CA Technologies, Future Facilities, Norland Managed Services, Carbon3IT, University of Notre Dame and University of Leeds.

“This groundswell of support for CoolEmAll is enabling us to undertake R&D using some of the best minds in the industry and a wealth of resources. It is simply impossible for a single vendor or research body to conduct the necessary research on the scale required but by bringing together all these parties we can achieve our ambitious goals to cut data centre CO2 emissions and costs,” says Andrew Donoghue, senior analyst, 451 Research, and CoolEmAll consortium spokesperson.

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