Google talks efficient data centers

Google talks efficient data centers

Summary: Google is known as a search titan, but its real business is running data centers. On Wednesday, Google handed out a few key tips as it touted its data center efficiency and sustainability efforts.

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Google is known as a search titan, but its real business is running data centers. On Wednesday, Google handed out a few key tips as it touted its data center efficiency and sustainability efforts.

datacenter2.pngIn a blog post, Google's senior vice president of operations Urs Hölzle outlined the energy its data centers use overall.

Google also detailed its five-step plan to make data centers more efficient. It's a must-read for anyone involved with data centers. Google could fork over a little more detail, but there are a handful of tips that you can take back to your enterprise.

Also see: Google makes waves and may have solved the data center conundrum

Among the key points:

  • Downsize servers so you only use what you need. For instance, Google servers don't have graphic chips. Why? You don't need them. Going minimalist lowers energy consumption.

  • Use evaporated water to conserve energy and reduce the time that the coolers run. Here's how it works:

datacenter11.png

  • Water management is key. Google outlines how it uses recycled water whenever possible. The company notes:

By the end of 2008, two of our facilities will run on 100% recycled water, and by 2010 we expect recycled water to provide 80% of our total water consumption. The idea behind this is simple: instead of wasting clean, potable water, use a dirty source of water and clean it just enough so it can be used for cooling. Cooling water still needs to be processed, but it's much easier to treat it enough for data center use compared to cleaning it for drinking use.

  • Sixty eight percent of retired server materials are repurposed at Google.

Topics: Storage, Data Centers, Google, Hardware

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2 comments
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  • Sounds like the same basic setup in use

    at nuclear reactors for years,
    AllKnowingAllSeeing
  • Wheres the DC?

    I'm excited to see Google take such a strong approach to promoting greater data center efficiency. But, I think what's lost in this post is one of the most inherent issues with the efficiency of a data center to begin with: power distribution. This is, however, called out on Google's website (http://www.google.com/corporate/datacenters/step1.html), saying, "Up to a third of the total energy consumed by a typical server is wasted before reaching the computing components. THe majority of these losses occur when converting electricity from one kind to another. The power supply, which converts AC voltage coming from a standard outlet to a set of low DC voltages, is where most of the energy is lost." While technologies like "evaporative cooling techniques" are certainly important in taking on excessive heat, by fixing hte problem at the root - inefficient facility-level electrical distribution - you can generate less heat in the first place (which means less to cool). This occurs because, as Google notes, there are conversions (AC to DC), as well as transformations (higher voltage to lower voltage), that need to take place in a data center, which creates excess heat at each point of change. With AC power distribution you are looking at 5-7 conversions and transformations, opposed to 2 with DC power distribution - reducing energy consumption anywhere from 15-50%. When it comes to energy efficiency in the data center, I'm as big a fan as anyone of unique and inventive technologies, but if you simply start at the source (electricity), you may be surprised how far you'll get (www.validusdc.com)
    Validus DC