Watch out, Google: This Italian datacentre wants to snatch your efficiency crown (gallery)

Watch out, Google: This Italian datacentre wants to snatch your efficiency crown (gallery)

Summary: Italian oil company ENI has just opened a new datacentre that's aiming to beat Google's PUE record. ZDNet went to take a look.


 |  Image 1 of 11

  • Thumbnail 1
  • Thumbnail 2
  • Thumbnail 3
  • Thumbnail 4
  • Thumbnail 5
  • Thumbnail 6
  • Thumbnail 7
  • Thumbnail 8
  • Thumbnail 9
  • Thumbnail 10
  • Thumbnail 11
  • The goal is ambitious: to be greener than Google. It's an even more lofty goal since it comes from an oil company, not exactly regarded as one of the most environmentally conscious. But ENI, Italy's biggest oil and energy company (and the country's biggest company full stop), isn't shy about sharing its ambition: it wants the record for the greenest mega datacentre in the world. Which, according to the company, means beating Google.

    ENI's people are hoping to succeed with the help of a brand new complex close to the village of Ferrera Erbognone, a one-hour drive south from Milan in the north west of Italy. The building will host ENI's central processing systems, both for information management and seismic simulation processing.

    The new facility is right next to ENI's own natural gas power station, which provide the juice. Thanks to its location and cooling adopted, the datacentre is poised for a PUE (the ratio between the total energy consumption and the energy consumed by the IT equipment) below 1.2, which would make it one of the most efficient in the world and put it within touching distance of that Google-beating target.

    "The record we are aiming at is Google's PUE of 1.13. Our simulations tell us we are on the right track to beat it or come very close to it. If we won't make it, it will certainly be a well-fought battle," Michele Mazzarelli, ENI VP and project manager of the Green Data Center program, told ZDNet.

    Whether ENI's challenge has been successful won't be known for sure until a year from now, when the process of measuring the datacentre's key metrics will be completed. In the meantime, ZDNet went to visit the facility to see how ENI execs hope it will become greener than Google's.

    Image: Raffaele Mastrolonardo/ZDNet

  • ENI's new datacentre's architecture is built around six flues, which give the structure an easily recognisable shape. The building — which has a size of 5,200 useful m2, up to 30MW of computing power and up to 50kW/m2 of energy density — will become the company's only datacentre, taking over from the four doing the same work at the moment. "We are on loan there and their activity will be discontinued," Mazzarelli said.

    Every bit of the company's processing power will be hosted in the new facility: a total of 60,000 CPUs running applications on Linux. The cost of the centre is approximately €100m, but the company is betting on a quick payoff: on its first day of operation, ENI's CEO Paolo Scaroni said that, thanks to the savings it will bring, ENI expects its investment will be repaid in just three years.   

    Image: Raffaele Mastrolonardo/ZDNet






Topics: Data Centers, Datacentre Tour, EU

Raffaele Mastrolonardo

About Raffaele Mastrolonardo

Raffaele Mastrolonardo is a journalist and co-founder of effecinque news agency. He has been writing about technology for the past 11 years or so for some of the most important Italian news media.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


1 comment
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • details

    How exactly supply air is cooled to desired 25°С? Do they use chillers / freon air conditioners and mixing chambers for that purpose? And what about humidity? Ferrera Erbognone is located close to the sea – so there should always be enough moisture. But, in winter the humidity will hover around 100%. So how exactly is it controlled? I thought of dehumidifiers, but they are too energy intensive – not good for PUE.