Data Centers

Penn State Plans Second Data Center

Penn State University has finalized plans for a new data center at its University Park campus to provide high-performance computing and data storage for research and education.

The research-intensive university has been expanding its use of technology, leading to the need for another data center. "Advanced computational models employing big data are now commonplace across academic disciplines, with advances in virtually all fields dependent upon cyberscience," said Neil Sharkey, vice president for research at Penn State, in a prepared statement.

Construction of the university's first data center, located at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center, began in January. When both centers are completed, they will each back up to the other to provide data protection and continuity of service in the case of a disaster.

The University Park data center will serve a 1.75 megawatt load initially, with the option to add another megawatt within the building's initial footprint and future expansion to at least 8 megawatts on the site. The university will consolidate many individual servers across the University Park campus into the new data center. Moving them to the new center, where they can share power and cooling services, will result in approximately 80 percent greater energy efficiency. The facility itself will be very energy efficient, as is the Hershey data center.

The data center will use a three-stage process to achieve the greatest energy efficiency possible. The first stage will use heat exchangers to circulate indoor air; the second stage will spray water on the heat exchangers to reduce the temperature of the incoming air; and the third stage will use mechanical cooling with compressors only as required, according to the university. The center will also use "hot- and cold-aisle containment to segregate the hot air ejected by the equipment from the cool air circulating in the center," stated a news release from the university. The projected power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of the University Park data center will be 1.19, compared to a national average data center PUE of 1.7.

According to the university. the projected total budget for the new data center is $58 million.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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