The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Why are we so focused on saving energy in data centers?

After a searing Texas summer with more than two weeks of consecutive 100F degree days, it was refreshing to read Bill Kosik’s blog “Fall Into Data Center Savings” that provides a great overview of how weather affects the efficiency of various data center cooling strategies. The use of outside air for cooling is growing in popularity, and is the primary cooling mechanism for HP’s award winning Wynyard data center in the UK. Intel created a parallel environment that had one side of a blade data center used outside air economizer while the other side used direct expansion (DX) cooling, and saved 67% of the power costs over a 10 month period, and estimated annualized savings of 2.87M USD for a 10MW data center.


Why are we so focused on saving energy in data centers? The Western world has enjoyed reasonably priced power for our factories, offices, homes and vehicles, but there is a very rapidly growing demand from India and China that could change things very quickly. David Gerwitz, in a recent blog, noted that China demand for oil is growing at 8.68% annually, compared to a US growth of a meager 0.34%, and with growth of their middle class the demand could grow to 10.1 billion tons, or 78% of the world’s current capacity within 10 years. China’s demand growth rate in 2000 was 2.46%. The increasing demand will drive energy prices skyward as the capacity cannot grow as rapidly, so it is prudent to look at ways to increase operational and energy efficiency as a way to conserve energy and reduce costs.


We should not solely focus on energy, but should include all resources, include land and water usage. Corporate data centers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they are typically large permanent structures that are capital intensive, time consuming to build, and difficult to expand. Shipping container-based data centers, like HP’s Performance Optimized Datacenter (POD), provide a means to rapidly grow capacity in a matter of weeks, compared with an 18-24 month build for a conventional data center. Recently, HP’s Critical Facilities Services team released the patent pending HP Flexible Data Center concept that fits in between POD and traditional data centers in speed of deployment, flexibility and cost by using industrial components deployed in modules that can expand as demand increases, conserving capital, land and energy.   

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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