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Syracuse U Aims for Greener Data Center

Syracuse University is teaming with IBM and the state of New York to build what it expects to be one of the most energy-efficient data centers in the world.

According to information released by the university today, the 6,000-square-foot data center will use advanced construction and IBM technologies to help bring energy use in the facility down to about 50 percent of what's used in a "typical data center today."

Some of the innovations being built into the data center include an electrical co-generation system that uses a "microturbine" running off natural gas to provide electricity for the servers and cooling systems; monitoring of server temperature via computer-controlled sensors to apply cooling only to servers that need it; a new liquid cooling system that, as IBM described it, "will use an adsorption chiller unit to convert the heat generated by the microturbine into chilled water to cool the data center's servers and adjacent building"; a direct current power distribution system; and IBM Rear Door Heat eXchanger technology to reduce server heat output.

Nancy Cantor, chancellor and president of Syracuse U, said that the effort is part of the university's Scholarship in Action initiative, which looks to create collaborative partnerships with outside organizations and companies to "enrich scholarship and education and address the pressing issues of the world."

"This project yields benefits in every direction imaginable--just as Scholarship in Action aspires to do," Cantor said in a statement released Friday. "It's a perfect example of how effective cross-sector partnerships can be. IBM, [New York State Energy Research and Development Authority] and SU each are bringing their strengths to the table to gain vital insight into solving crucial aspects of the intensifying global problem of increasing energy consumption that none of us could achieve separately. Best of all, the solutions we find ultimately will serve the public good."

IBM, for its part, is providing more than $5 million in equipment and support, including IBM BladeCenter, Power 575, and z10 systems. NYSERDA is pumping $2 million into the project.

The data center will also be used as a laboratory in which Syracuse U will research and develop energy efficiency modeling and analysis tools.

"Energy use is becoming the largest single cost in operating data centers, and IBM is dedicated to helping customers reduce electricity consumption to benefit their businesses and the environment," said Vijay Lund, vice president for development and manufacturing operations in IBM's Systems and Technology Group, also in a statement released today. "IBM is joining with Syracuse University to address the end-to-end data center infrastructure, from electricity generation to cooling systems to the operation and management of servers, to develop the greenest, most efficient data center possible."

The new data center is expected to be completed by the end of 2009. It will cost about $12.4 million.

Syracuse U serves about 18,000 students and employs 1,400 faculty members.

About the Author

Executive Producer David Nagel heads up the editorial department for 1105 Media's education publications — which include two daily sites, a variety of newsletters and two monthly digital magazines covering technology in both K-12 and higher education.

A 21-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192 or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education). A selection of David Nagel's articles can be found on this site.


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