IBM is working to deliver technology that could lead to zero-emission data centers, says an IBM researcher at the USENIX Large Installation System Administration conference.
working to deliver technology that could lead to zero-emission data centers,
said an IBM researcher at a USENIX
conference here Nov. 6.
At the USENIX Large
Installation System Administration conference, Bruno Michel, manager of
Advanced Thermal Packaging at IBM's Zurich
Research Laboratory, said his team is working on new ways to reduce emissions
and waste in data centers, including methods such as chip stacking and liquid
Michel said, "High-performance liquid cooling allows data centers to
operate with coolant temperatures above the free cooling limit in all climates,
eliminating the need for chillers and allowing the thermal energy to be reused
in cold climates," such as that in Zurich. Indeed, at IBM's
Zurich lab, Michel's team has "demonstrated the removal of 85 percent of
the heat load from high-performance compute nodes at a temperature of 60
degrees Celsius and compared their energy and emission balance with a classical
air-cooled data center, a data center with free cooling in a cold climate zone
and a data center with chiller-mediated energy reuse," he said in the
presentation's introductory text.
"We thought that computers do a lot for biology and we wanted to see
what biology can do for computers," Michel said, noting that a
well-functioning computing system in a data center can work very much like a
body's circulatory system.
Michel said data centers are consuming more and more energy, with data
center energy consumption doubling over the last four years. "Future data
centers will be dominated by energy cost, with half of that being spent on
coolant," if nothing is done, he said.
And demand for computing power will only continue to grow with drivers such
as mobility and telecommunications, digital media, 24/7 e-commerce,
high-performance computing, real-time systems and compliance pushing users to
grasp for more and more compute cycles and greater performance.
With that in mind, IBM and the Swiss
Federal Institute of Technology Zurich are working on a "first-of-a-kind
water-cooled supercomputer that will directly repurpose excess heat for the
university buildings, IBM said in a June 23
news release. The system is called Aquasar and is "expected to decrease
the carbon footprint of the system by up to 85 percent and estimated to save up
to 30 tons of CO2 per year, compared to a similar system using today's cooling
"We reuse waste heat for remote heating," Michel said. "The
prototype reuses 75 percent of the energy" put into it, he added.
"The vision is that within five years we can have a zero-emission data
center," he said.
Aquasar is slated for delivery by April of 2010, Michel said.
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.