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IBM Advances Data Center Efficiencies

IBM serverWith a new energy-saving modular data center and the completion of a showcase Green Data Center at Syracuse University, IBM is flush with IT news.

A new modular data center model puts computing power in the form of a trailer, which can be towed to remote locations or used as an on-demand addition at existing data centers.

Such container-based modular data centers use less energy than traditional data centers, said Steven Sams, vice president of Site and Facilities for IBM Global Technology Services.

IBM has dubbed the model portable modular data center (PMDC). PMDCs have a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.3, including the IT components and physical infrastructure such as chillers, UPS and other components, Sams said.

That compares to a PUE of 2.3 or higher for most existing data centers, and a PUE of 1.5-1.7 for some of the newer ground-based data centers.

“This efficiency is primarily driven by containment of the environment and strict separation of hot and cold air,” Sams said.

When the Green Data Center becomes fully operational in January, it should use about half the energy used in a typical data center. Announced in May, that construction took a little more than 6 months and cost $12.4 million.

The data center has an on-site electrical co-generation system fueled by natural gas microturbine engines, which will generate 100 percent of the center’s electricity. Meanwhile, its liquid cooling system will use double-effect absorption chillers to convert exhaust heat from the microturbines into chilled water to cool the data center’s servers, with sufficient excess cooling to handle the needs of an adjacent building.

IBM donated $5 million in equipment to the facility, while the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority contributed $2 million to the project. An additional $500,000 in funding has been procured from the New York State Senate.

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