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Energy Efficiency Starts at Data Centers

Energy efficiency is essential for our homes—and for our data centers. Used to house computers, storage systems, and computing infrastructure, data centers account for roughly 2% of total U.S. electricity consumption while data center cooling can account for up to 40% of data center energy usage overall. Now, the government is looking for a way to improve this, in an effort to make all our communities a little bit more sustainable.

To help, the U.S. DOE (Dept. of Energy) announced $40 million in funding for 15 projects that will build high-performance, energy-efficient cooling solutions for data centers. The projects will be located at national labs, universities, and businesses and they look to reduce the energy necessary to cool data centers. The objective is to lower the operational carbon footprint of powering and cooling the critical infrastructure.

It’s no surprise that some of these projects are making great strides. Let’s take a peek at some of the energy-efficient projects—and how they intend to transform data centers in the days to come.

Bethesda, Md., will see the rise of a prefabricated, modularly designed data center that will leverage four key components and system-level technology advancements to cool more efficiently.

In Golden, Colo., National Renewable Energy Laboratory will develop testing protocols to evaluate the cooling technologies developed by COOLERCHIPS projects in real data center operating conditions. This technical evaluation team will leverage the work done by the other project teams to develop a digital twin to evaluate key parameters and help test a broad range of technologies to evaluate thermal, reliability, and cost goals.

In Gainesville, Fla., the University of Florida will develop a disruptive thermal management solution proposed for cooling future CPU and GPU chips at unprecedented heat flux and power levels in data centers server racks. The new technology allows for significant future growth in processor power, rejects heat directly to the ambient air external to the data center, and would facilitate adoption within existing data center infrastructure with a primary liquid cooling loop.

Intel Federal looks to adapt a two-phase immersion cooling system to spread heat more effectively in Austin, Texas.

In College Park, Md., the University of Maryland will develop an integrated decision support software tool for the design of next-generation data centers that links existing modeling software with an innovative co-simulation framework.

Certainly, these are just a few examples, but the intent is clear. Innovation is all around us. Government and innovators are coming together to determine how to make data centers more energy efficient, ultimately bringing greater sustainability to various communities all around the country. This is assuredly a trend to keep an eye on in the months to come.

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