HP Opens Green Data Center Research Facility

A new 50,000-square-foot facility in Colorado will serve the dual purpose of being an HP data center and a test facility for new sustainability technologies.

Hewlett-Packard is opening a facility that will act as a testing ground for efficient and sustainable data center technologies.

Unveiled March 30, the site in Fort Collins, Colo., will serve multiple purposes, including being used as a data center for internal applications run by HP as well as a test-bed for green data center operations. More than 8,000 environmental sensors throughout the 50,000-square-foot facility will monitor everything from temperature to humidity, and the facility's central-management system will use the data to adjust operations accordingly to make them as energy-efficient as possible.

Designed by HP Critical Facilities Services and built in collaboration with HP Labs, the facility will help HP push forward its Converged Infrastructure architecture, which is aimed at reducing complexity and sprawl in the data center, reducing power consumption and cranking up energy-efficiency. Ultimately, the facility will give enterprises the tools they need to run higher-performing, more energy-efficient data centers, a crucial issue for companies that are trying to rein in skyrocketing energy costs while creating IT infrastructures to meet their business demands.

"Our clients are seeking sustainable, affordable data center technologies that will effectively change the energy equation," Tom Christian, principal research scientist for HP's Sustainable Ecosystems Research Lab, said in a statement. "The new Fort Collins research facility advances the development of solutions that address CIOs' most pressing needs, including lowered energy consumption and reduced costs."

The data center will be fitted with thousands of x86-based ProLiant and Itanium-powered Integrity servers, as well as BladeSystem blade servers and StorageWorks storage devices. They will be used to run internal HP applications and support the sustainability research done by HP Labs, the company said. Half the facility will be used in what HP officials call a "living laboratory" environment, where HP Labs, through its Sustainable Data Center Project, will continue its research in reducing emissions and power consumption.

The data center will have hot and cold aisles, and every aisle between the server racks will have cool-air intakes and hot-air outlets, enabling constant air circulation through the racks as cool air is blown into the cold aisles from below and hot air sent out from the hot aisles overhead. It also will have both air-side and water-side economizers, which will enhance energy efficiency in the building.

HP engineers also will study how to best use resources in power and cooling microgrids, which look at air and water cooling capabilities that leverage the climate in the Rocky Mountains. In addition, the building will house the HP Labs Sandbox, a research area isolated-both electronically and environmentally-from the rest of the facility. The Sandbox will be a test-bed for HP Labs engineers, who will use it to test new sustainability technologies, according to the company.