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HP Unveils Net Zero-Energy Data Center Design

Hewlett-Packard has unveiled designs for a data center that requires no net energy from traditional power grids.

The Net-Zero Energy Data Center architecture, designed by HP’s research arm HP Labs, shows how organizations can cut total power use by 30 percent, as well as reduce dependence on grid power and costs by more than 80 percent, HP says.

The design integrates energy and cooling supply from local renewables, and a demand management approach that allows the scheduling of IT workloads based on resource availability and performance requirements. For example, non-critical, delay-tolerant workloads can be scheduled during daylight hours to coincide with solar supply for data centers equipped with photovoltaic energy generation.

As a result of the approach, demand can be “shaped” according to resource availability to reduce reliance on non-renewable resources. This means that organizations can lower overall data center costs – from capital investment in upfront grid technology to the operational costs of workload execution, HP says.

IT workload planning is scheduled through four modules:

  • A prediction module that leverages predictive analytics software to forecast the availability and cost of critical resources, such as renewable energy and IT workload demand.
  • A planning module using an optimization algorithm that balances workload scheduling with high-level operational goals, such as achieving net-zero energy operation. This enables organizations to schedule workloads based on resource availability, while meeting data-center operational goals.
  • An execution module that is designed to enable organizations to manage workload and energy consumption in real time according to performance requirements and data-center operational objectives.
  • A verification and reporting module that identifies and remediates misalignment between the plan and execution, aiming to ensure plan accuracy.

The sustainable data center at HP Labs’ headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., has served as the initial “test bed” for building the blueprint.

Earlier this month, Apple announced plans to power its 500,000-square-foot data center in Maiden, N.C., entirely with renewable energy by the end of the year. Apple will produce about 60 percent of renewable power for the site from solar and fuel cells installed at the data center. The remaining 40 percent will be purchased from local and regional sources, Apple said. The company plans to partner with NC GreenPower, an independent nonprofit, to increase local renewable energy production through North Carolina.

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