Dynamic cooling. Hewlett-Packard recently announced the upcoming release of the Dynamic Smart Cooling system. This system uses localized temperature sensors to adjust the airflow from a distributed set of fans to optimize cooling for the components that are working the hardest and thus generating the most heat.
By not having to cool an entire system at the same high level, this approach could save up to 40 percent of blade-server systems' energy costs, said Ron Mann, HP's director of engineering enterprise infrastructure solutions.
Coolant-based systems. Emerson Network Power has developed a system that runs coolant through channels directly to each blade server. The system uses sensors to determine which areas are the hottest. It thus can use cooling energy efficiently.
SprayCool has developed a technology that uses fluorinert, a nonconductive liquid that can run directly on top of a server's electronics, said company marketing manager Patchen Noelke. This could be used with heat sensors to save energy by directing coolant only where most needed.
Nanocarpets. Powerful computers typically use heat sinks to passively draw heat away from the circuitry and reduce the need for cooling equipment. Purdue University researchers are developing a novel thermal interface material made of carbon nanotubes configured like a Velcro carpet that attaches to the chip and the heat sinks.
This material and its carpet-like structure promise to conduct heat away from the chip more efficiently than traditional heat-sink materials such as aluminum and copper and thus provide 10 degrees Celsius more cooling, said associate professor Timothy Fisher, who is leading the project.
Previous similar cooling approaches faced problems because the temperatures required to grow nanotubes on the chips damaged the processors, Fisher said. The Purdue technique works at lower temperatures.
Industry and governmental organizations. Several companies, including APC, Dell, HP, IBM, and Sun, founded the Green Grid ( www.thegreengrid.org) to focus on the best practices and management approaches for lowering data centers' energy consumption.
The DoE recently released the Server Energy Measurement Protocol ( www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_servers_ datacenters) and is working with companies to test and adopt it.
"The protocol establishes a procedure for attaching an energy-usage measurement to existing performance measurements for servers,"said Jonathon Koomey, a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory staff scientist who is working on the project.
This is important because there currently is no standard way of measuring servers' energy-related performance, he noted. The ability to accurately gauge energy usage is critical to determining conservation efforts' effectiveness, he added.
The nonprofit Standard Performance Evaluation Corp. ( www.spec.org)—which includes companies such as AMD, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and database vendor Sybase—is working on a set of benchmarks related to servers' energy usage, which could be finalized in the near future.
Modular systems. APC and Emerson Network Power are developing modular power and cooling systems. These products would let companies add modules—and thus relatively small amounts of power and cooling capacity—as data centers grow, explained Emerson vice president of power engineering Peter Panfil. Businesses would thus efficiently use only what is needed at a specific time, he noted.
APC calls its system Infra-Struxure. Emerson named its product the Adaptive Architecture.
Project Blackbox. Sun recently created Project Blackbox, in which a complete data center can operate in a standard 20-foot-long shipping container equipped with a cooling system and multiple power and high-speed-networking connectors.
Sun engineered these servers to reduce heat and distribute power more effectively and thus use energy 20 percent more efficiently than standard 10,000-square-foot data centers.