Singapore is creating test environments to assess if data centres are able to operate at optimal levels even in hotter, tropical climates.
The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) said it was working with various industry players to evaluate the feasibility of a “tropical data centre”, in which environmental temperatures would be tested at up to 38 degrees Celsius and ambient humidity at 90 percent or more.
Typical data centres function in temperatures of between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius, and within 50 and 60 percent relative ambient humidity. This need to maintain a cooler environment accounts for a significant portion in a data centre’s energy consumption. While datacentre equipment can operate normally at higher temperatures, industry best practices typically put the recommended range at 18 to 27 degrees Celsius.
According to a 2013 survey by energy management vendor Enlogic Systems, 60 percent of data centre administrators in Hong Kong respondents felt it was safe to run data centres at up to 25 degrees C, while 51 percent in Shanghai felt likewise for temperatures of up to 30 degrees C.
IT vendors have been looking at ways to build equipment that would enable data centre facilities to be operated at higher temperatures. In 2012, Intel partnered Korean mobile operator KT to trial a technology that would allow data centres to operate at over 38 degrees C. This was expected to help reduce energy costs by 7 percent for every 1 degree C raised. Hitting the target of 38 degrees C would yield annual savings in energy costs of US$7.5 million.
Through its trials, the IDA is hoping to slash datacentre power consumption by up to 40 percent and reduce carbon emissions.”The trial would test how data servers react under various ‘live’ situations, such as peak surges or transferring of data, and in diverse conditions, such as with no temperature or humidity controls,” claims IDA. It noted that tests, running 24 by 7, would be conducted on simulated server loads and while large volumes of data were being transferred between networks and storage devices.
The new initiative is part of Singapore’s Green Data Centre Programme, launched in late-2014, which aims to improve datacentre energy efficiencies. Fujitsu, HPE, Huawei, Intel, Keppel Data Centres, The Green Grid, and Nanyang Technological University are among the various industry partners involved in the trial.
IDA’s assistant chief executive, Khoong Hock Yun stated:
With Singapore’s continued growth as a premium hub for data centres, we want to develop new technologies and standards that allow us to operate advanced data centres in the most energy efficient way in a tropical climate.
New ideas and approaches, such as raising either the ambient temperature or humidity, will be tested to see if these can greatly increase our energy efficiency, with insignificant impact on the critical datacentre operations.