Data centers are reported to account for around three percent of the world’s total energy consumption and are expected to overtake the carbon emissions of the airline industry by 2020. Efficient use of energy in this sector is therefore more important today than ever before. Nearly half of the energy consumed in data centers is caused by the cooling systems.
– In this research, our main goal was to optimize and reduce the energy consumption of the cooling systems in modern data centers. The positive environmental impacts of this reduction in energy consumption are reducing the global carbon footprint and carbon emissions, says Arash Mousavi.
Simulations predict reality
The hypothesis of the research was that substantial amount of energy waste can be prevented by utilizing an advanced simulation-based method for analyzing the thermal and energy consuming behaviors of cooling systems in modern data centers. The researchers created mathematical thermal and energy consumption models, tested them in real data centers and optimized them. The aim was a flexible and intelligent building automation system.
– We incorporated most of our research and development work into a generic simulation toolbox that consists of realistic thermal models of a real data center. We can use the tool to model various server rooms and simulate the thermal as well as energy consuming behaviors of the server rooms, says Arash Mousavi.
By using the tool, the researchers investigated several different methods of energy saving in cooling systems. For example, they managed to decrease energy consumption related to how the cooling systems are controlled and by letting a model automatically choose the best cooling method, free air-cooling or chillers, based on outside temperature as well as CPU loads and internal conditions of server rooms. They also established that moving a server’s physical position – from top to the bottom of the racks – had a positive impact on energy saving.
The project SAVE, within which the research has been carried out, has resulted in several published research articles, software has been developed and it has strengthen the collaboration with the data center industry. Fortlax – a company that runs data centers in Piteå – is one of the partners in the project.
– The results look very promising and we are planning a deeper collaboration in several of the data center related projects at Luleå University of Technology, says Anders Berglund, CEO of Fortlax.