Information technology firm Capgemini has opened what it claims is the most energy efficient data centre in the world – in Swindon.
The Swindon centre boasts an unprecedented power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.08 – meaning that the facility consumes just 8% more power than the IT equipment it contains.
Most data centres have a PUE of about two, but some operate at three or above. A Hewlett-Packard data centre opened near Billingham, Teesside, earlier this year has a PUE of 1.2 (ENDS Report, April 2010). Google, which has invested heavily in this field, claims an average PUE of 1.18 for its data centres and a best performance of 1.13.
Capgemini’s new data centre achieved its performance by using a modular design which means levels of cooling can be tailored to the requirements of each module. It also uses primary fresh air cooling and secondary evaporative cooling rather than a conventional air conditioning system. The centre is controlled by a sophisticated building management system which ensures it operates at peak efficiency.
The electricity consumption of the facility will be just half that of a traditional facility, while maintenance costs will only be a quarter of older designs.
Capgemini’s chief executive Richard Dicketts said demand from clients for data centres with lower costs and lower impacts was the main motivation for opening the new site.
Data centres house servers and data storage that enable information and communication services such as online banking, social networking and office email systems. They can use a vast amount of electricity for cooling and other support services, with estimates suggesting they already use some 3% of the UK’s electricity. Government projections show this doubling by 2020 (ENDS Report, August 2009).