University of Michigan reveals eco-friendly data centre

Wednesday, 30 May, 2012

The North American University of Michigan has revealed its Modular Data Center (MDC), which it has labelled an eco-friendly data centre.

The data centre, which houses equipment in a unit the size of several shipping containers, is different to most data centres in that it uses outdoor air to cool equipment, instead of expensive, industrial air conditioners.

A traditional data centre takes hot air generated by the computing equipment, chills it and then runs it back through the computing equipment. This can be quite expensive; in some cases, the energy cost for cooling can be twice the cost of power dedicated to the computing equipment itself.

"Rather than running what amounts to a very expensive air conditioner all year long, the MDC allows us to essentially open the windows during the colder months, and limit air conditioning to the few months in the summer when we really need it," said Andy Palms, director of communications systems and data centres at the University of Michigan.

According to the university, the use of ambient air significantly reduces the amount of energy needed to cool the computers. In comparison to a traditional data centre like the Michigan Academic Computing Center, the MDC could potentially save $50,000 per month in energy costs - $600,000 over an entire year.

The unversity is also providing an online presentation featuring more details on the data centre.

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