HP has been awarded a key patent on the design for an "intelligent,"
energy-efficient data center that dynamically allocates cooling
resources where and when they're needed most.
"Smart" Cooling technology, developed by a team
from HP Labs, measures temperature distribution throughout
a data center to dynamically apportion air conditioning through
"smart vents" and other variable air-conditioning
resources. It configures the cooling system to provide more
cooling to racks generating the most heat and less to those
generating the least heat.
Savings of 25 Percent
"By applying smart cooling technology to HP Labs' own
data centers, we've been able to save more than 25 percent
in cooling costs," said John Sontag, the HP Labs research
manager who oversees the data centers. HP is now offering
a version of this technology to customers as the Static Smart
"It's been succesfully used by a number of customers
to reach a power density in their data centers they would
not have been able to sustain without the use of smart cooling,"
Appropriate Allocation of Cooling Resources
In U.S. Patent No. 6,574,104, authors Chandrakant D. Patel,
Cullen E. Bash and Abdlmonem Beitelmal state that conventional
data-center cooling systems typically operate "at substantially
100 percent of the anticipated heat dissipations from the
racks" -- that is, they operate as if each rack is generating
a maximum amount of heat even if that's not the case.
"Consequently, conventional cooling systems often incur
greater amounts of operating expenses than may be necessary
to sufficiently cool the heat-generating components contained
in the racks of data centers," the authors say.
By contrast, the HP Labs' smart cooling system allocates
compute workloads, opens or closes air-conditioning vents,
adjusts the temperature of the cooling fluid or controls the
velocity of air distribution in the data center -- all with
the goal of reducing data-center energy costs.
Other Cooling Technologies
Smart cooling is among a number of technologies the HP Labs
team has develop to address the growing problem of cooling
increasingly dense data centers packed with increasingly powerful
computers. The HP Labs "cool team" -- Patel, Bash,
Beitelmal and Ratnesh Sharma -- have developed a robot that
literally rolls around a data center floor looking for hot
spots and signaling the system to adjust cooling or move workloads
from one system to another.
In addition, the researchers put HP's classic inkjet technology
to use for targeted spray cooling of microprocessors. Working
with engineers in HP's printing and imaging group and elsewhere
in the company, the researchers re-configured the inkjet head
to spray tiny droplets of dielectric liquid coolant instead
of ink. This makes it possible to cool chips even when temperature
and heat flux levels vary across surfaces.
by Jamie Beckett