Where Does The Power Go? - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Hardware & Infrastructure
05:45 PM
Art Wittmann
Art Wittmann
Connect Directly

Where Does The Power Go?

The biggest consumer of energy in the data center isn't the IT equipment

You'd think that most of the power consumed by data centers is by IT equipment. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. The accompanying chart shows the typical breakdown.

One of the biggest power hogs is chillers, the outdoor systems that cool water and other refrigerants. For large-scale systems, chiller manufacturers are working on bearingless designs, as the bulk of chiller inefficiency comes in energy lost through friction in the bearings. For smaller systems, technology such as Liebert's Digital Scroll compressor offers substantial savings. The Digital Scroll rapidly turns the compressor on and off, letting it efficiently work from 10% to 100% of its capacity.

Another approach is IBM's Cool Battery, which uses a chemical reaction to "store cold." Substantial savings can come by running chillers at off-peak hours and using the stored energy during peak load times. A deal with the local utility for lower-cost off-peak power goes a long way toward ensuring a good total cost of ownership for the Cool Battery.

The efficiency of uninterruptible power supplies also has changed substantially over the past few years. The inverter circuitry that turns the DC power from batteries into the AC power required by IT equipment draws a base level of power regardless of its load. New designs substantially reduce that base level load as well as the proportional loss under load, moving efficiency from the 80% range to about 95%.

Some UPS systems also have an economy mode, which lets power from the grid feed IT gear directly. These systems also can monitor power consumption, which solves another data center challenge: knowing just how much power you're using.

Regardless of the technology deployed, all of these systems--from chillers to UPS systems to humidifiers to computer room air conditioning units--operate most efficiently when they're working at or very near their rated load. Modular data center designs that let systems either run at load or be turned off will be far more efficient than designs that load systems at some fraction of capacity.

Return to the story:
The Cold Green Facts

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2020 State of DevOps Report
2020 State of DevOps Report
Download this report today to learn more about the key tools and technologies being utilized, and how organizations deal with the cultural and process changes that DevOps brings. The report also examines the barriers organizations face, as well as the rewards from DevOps including faster application delivery, higher quality products, and quicker recovery from errors in production.
Data Science: How the Pandemic Has Affected 10 Popular Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  9/9/2020
The Growing Security Priority for DevOps and Cloud Migration
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  9/3/2020
Dark Side of AI: How to Make Artificial Intelligence Trustworthy
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  9/15/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
IT Automation Transforms Network Management
In this special report we will examine the layers of automation and orchestration in IT operations, and how they can provide high availability and greater scale for modern applications and business demands.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll