Energy-efficient server centres for Finland under development at Aalto University
The objective of Aalto University's Data Centers to Finland (DC2F) research project is to create, in the server centres, the conditions and know-how that will enable future production of digital services energy-efficiently and without putting a strain on the environment.
In a short time, national and international server centres, which consume significant amounts of electricity and produce heat, have appeared around Finland. Cooling down a server centre is comparable to a situation where one attempts to keep a room full of heated sauna stoves cool.
- The aim in the different sub-areas of the DC2F research project is to analyze the energy consumption of the ICT equipment and cooling solutions at the service centres to find the best future solutions for the optimization of the electricity consumption by various systems and for the utilization of the heat thus created, explains the Manager in Charge, Jukka Manner, from Aalto University.
A special priority area of the project deals with the development of electricity supply, based on direct current (400 Volts), for both servers and data communication equipment. The purpose is to analyze the server centres already in operation and, based on that, develop solutions for both cooling of the areas and utilization of the heat created. In addition, the project will pay attention to data communication equipment, the power consumption of which will dramatically grow along with the increasing use of the Internet and electronic services.
- A server centre's energy consumption is easier to conceptualize when one realizes that an average sized, 100 kW server centre is roughly comparable to approximately fifteen continuously heated electric stoves cooled by air. The area temperature must be kept around twenty degrees Celsius or the equipment will fail, Professor Manner explains.
The participants of the research project are the Department of Communications and Networking, the Department of Electrical Engineering and the Department of Structural Engineering and Building Technology at Aalto University.
- Each department has its own particular role in the project. The objective is to provide comprehensive know-how for the building of the service centres and for choosing their ICT equipment. The project is a good example of cross-scientific research at Aalto University, Professor Manner says.
- With the help of broadly based research, Finland's research and industry in the field can rise into a more prominent role around the world, and with it we can also facilitate domestic server centre projects in Finland. Typically, the latest ICT technology is more efficient, but at the same time the equipment uses more energy than the equipment of the previous generation. In fact, the biggest threat is that there won't be enough electricity for all server centres.
The project is funded by Tekes and the Ministry of Finance. The industrial partners in the project are Cisco Systems Finland Oy, CSC – IT Centre for Science Ltd, Efore Oyj and Oy International Business Machines AB.
Manager in Charge of the Project, Professor Jukka Manner, jukka.manner [at] tkk [dot] fi, +358 (0)50 511 2973 Jose Costa-Requena, jose [at] netlab [dot] tkk [dot] fi, +358 (0)50 577 0142