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HP Offers "Smart" Cooling for Data Centers

With increasing amounts of processing and storage power heating up the industry, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard announced a new data center solution aimed at cooling things off.

The Smart Cooling of Data Centers' concept was cooked up at Hewlett Packard Laboratories as an energy efficient "smart" cooling system it says reduces energy consumption of the cooling portion of a data center by up to 25 percent by changing its physical infrastructure.

For many companies, curtailing energy consumption could translate into millions of dollars in savings which otherwise gets burned away in energy costs for powering and cooling computers, storage devices, and networking equipment, says HP.

Typically a 30,000-square-foot data center with 1,000 racks could pose a $4 million per year drain on company coffers just to keep systems cool.

"What's happening today is that smaller and smaller storage and server devices are being developed," said HP's Bryan Donabedian. "This creates a tremendous amount of heat in a small area of square footage. The problem is that people are overreacting by installing more and more air-conditioning units without any engineering thought behind it. Then operating costs go up significantly because it costs a fortune to produce that much cold air and get it to the right places. It's amazing how much money gets spent just on electricity in a data center."

The smart cooling solution, which will be marketed as part of HP's new Utility Data Center package, uses computational fluid dynamics to create a three-dimensional computer model based on the airflow throughout a data center.

Based on floor space and planned or existing cooling systems, an HP site planner then recommends placement of computing resources and air conditioning equipment to lessen power demand and keep key areas cool, either as a corrective measure for companies, or for those that are in the process of upgrading or consolidating existing equipment layouts.

"We now have a way to take the vast complexities of all the variables in a room and see how the air moves and how we can change that to make maximize use of cooling capacity, create a better environment for the equipment, and reduce operating costs," said Donabedian.

The next evolution of the smart cooling system will take it from a static level to a dynamic one, said Donabedian.

Dynamic smart cooling will ad an element of monitoring and control and will entail heat sensors that continuously monitor temperature changes and relay that information back to an onsite computing application.

"Dynamic smart cooling will direct cooling resources within the data center precisely where and when needed as computing requirements rise and fall during operation," said Chandrakant Patel, principal scientist for HP Labs. "Dynamic smart cooling also will redistribute the computer workload within data centers or within a global network of data centers to achieve cooling energy efficiency."

HP has already marketed its new cooling solution to Palo Alto, Calif.-based PDI/DreamWorks and the Pacific Northwest National Lab in Richland, Washington.