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Power supply to enable green, energy-saving data centers

Posted: 19 Jun 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:green data centers? uninterruptible power supply? energy efficiency?

APC-MGE is preparing an uninterruptible power supply that will address two of the biggest concerns facing data centers today: the need for increased power density and the need to be green.

The Symmetra PX 250/500 UPS for large data centers will be scalable in increments of 25kW, a bigger step than APC-MGE's currently available Symmetra PX systems which are expandable in 10kW increments. The new systems, which are expected to be available in November 2007, follow the emerging trend of making data centers more energy efficient.

"Server manufacturers want more power density in less space. We've taken the technology that's been the basis of our modular, scalable Symmetra PXs and made it bigger," said Barry Rimler, chief engineer for InfraStruXure systems at APC-MGE. "Our goal is to support the demand for higher efficiency and for a substantially greener product."

Green computing
Laurent Vernerey, who became president and CEO of APC-MGE earlier this year after privately-held Schneider Electric SA of France acquired then publicly-traded American Power Conversion Corp., said companies have a "social responsibility to develop green data centers."

Other technology suppliers seem to agree. Intel Corp., Google Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc. and more than two dozen other electronics manufacturers, government agencies and other organizations announced last week the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, which aims to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by setting targets for energy-efficient computers and components.

Another group, the Green Grid consortium, which counts Intel, HP, APC-MGE and dozens of other technology companies as members, advocates energy efficient data centers and information services. Moreover, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may extend its Energy Star power conservation program to include data center equipment, networking switches and storage arrays.

Emerging solutions
Companies' desire to pack more computing power into their data centers and their wish to make them greener are not incompatible, APC-MGE said. "There are more and more critical networks that cost more and more to run, and that's not going to end," said Aaron Davis, company vice president and chief marketing officer. "We need new ways to provide efficiency and availability."

Symmetra PX can help, Rimler said. The PX 250 and PX 500 systems can each be scaled with 25kW power modules which are interchangeable between both systems, simplifying upgrades. The systems will support higher-density computing without increasing the footprint of a UPS system. That's important because "data center operators look to efficiently use every square foot of data center space," Rimler said.

The scalable Symmetra PX systems are part of APC-MGE's InfraStruXure offerings, which combine proven power, rack and cooling systems for a data center. The various InfraStruXure or ISX elements can be used in combination or separately to step up computing power without generating additional heat, Rimler said. The increase is also economical because ISX can reduce capital outlays by adding servers, UPS systems and cooling without expanding a data center's footprint, he said. The elements can also be added to existing data centers to create a hybrid solution.

Intuitive approach
Air conditioning is a big contributor to the ISX architecture's energy efficiency. APC-MGE is using close-coupled cooling that positions air conditioning units adjacent to server racks, shortening the distance cool air must travel to a few feet instead of "countless feet," Rimler said. "These air conditioners did not exist in the market three years ago, when data centers used to be cooled from the perimeter of the room. But with the advent of higher energy costs and higher server costs, it is costly and not efficient to have bigger fans moving more air through long distances," he said.

Much of the power consumed by the typical data center goes to cooling, not computing and much of it is wasted, said Neil Rasmussen, senior VP and CTO of APC-MGE. "Eighty-five percent of cooling capacity is not used or is not used efficiently," he said.

The battle for energy efficiency is being waged today in the data center," Rimler said. The goal is to create a "thermal island" with expandable computing power that delivers a "net neutral effect on the environment."

- David Roman
EE Times

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