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Prototyping the most energy and cost efficient data center in the world: The Boden Type Data Center

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BodenTypeDC (Prototyping the most energy and cost efficient data center in the world: The Boden Type Data Center)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2020-12-31

An international consortium - consisting of Hungarian data center engineering company H1 Systems, British cooling manufacturer EcoCooling specialising in the design of fresh-air cooling systems, German research institute Fraunhofer IOSB, Swedish research institute RISE and infrastructure developer Boden Business Agency - were awarded funding from EU’s H2020 program to build and validate an efficient operating research data center facility.
The project objective was to create, test and validate a prototype that is energy and cost efficient so that fully or in part the concept can be applied in the future around Europe. The prototype was called BodenType Data Center – and the first data center was called BodenType DC One.
The need for more efficient data centers is driven by operational expense and environmental implications. The data center market is growing and they are becoming an integrated part of data services. The main growth drivers are digital services, which include cloud computing, data analytics, big data, internet of things (IoT), multimedia applications, virtualization, and machine learning. Data centers have become critical infrastructure for society, therefore safety, reliability and availability are at the core of the prototype design and operation. Data center environmental impact is a growing concern due to their increasing energy consumption, embodied emissions, and their production of untapped waste heat.
To increase both OPEX and CAPEX efficiency, we applied a novel building design approach; namely a modular data center design and with direct fresh-air cooling systems combined with evaporative cooling apparatus, operating on solely harmonic free renewable energy, and using no centralized UPS capacity.
Aside from the building design, BodenTypeDC also addressed the questions of cooling efficiency, which identified and validated the importance of using a holistic view in the field of cooling control to further reduce the energy usage of data centers.
When closing the 39-month project we can proudly state that Boden Type DC fulfilled its objectives:
- validated that the adopted innovative data center concept met the energy efficiency, financial, reliability and other targets in near operational and real operational environments,
- validated and improved the software tools for modelling and simulating the operation of the facility and cooling equipment as well as the associated capital and operational costs,
- demonstrated the results in a “living lab”, a real environment to customers, end-users, and other stakeholders,
- demonstrated through accurate simulation that BodenType DC can be replicated in other European areas with less favourable climatic conditions,
- showcased a best practice for European data center industry players not only by establishing the prototype but also by articulating a set of guidelines for data center design, build and operation.
- collected a rich and openly available dataset of the full operational envelope of the data center running on direct fresh-air cooling with no centralized UPS.
Beyond that, the project has built fruitful international cooperation within the consortium, also with other industry players and with other energy-efficiency and sustainability related initiatives. The project has also contributed to the knowhow and expertise of each consortium members. Finally, consortium partners collectively won one of the most prestigious awards of the industry: the DCD Award as the Best Non-profit Industry Initiative.
During the 39 months of the project the consortium managed to follow the planned work schedule with minor delays in deliverables and milestones. The construction of the prototype building was completed and the test operation of the facility was performed in three PODs of the building populated with radically different IT equipment. The workload tools were developed and used to provide the planned benchmark workloads for the servers, the test schedules of the data center was planned, performed and monitored. Testing partners were recruited to enhance the relevance of the testing process and the publicity of the project results. During the tests, IT equipment, cooling systems, the inner space of the building and its external environment were measured continuously and all collected data was stored in databases. Datasets were analysed during the lifespan of the project, key findings were elaborated and later published.
The goal of the project was to build the prototype of a data center that has a reduced impact on the environment and to society compared to a traditional data center construction and operation approaches.
The measured ISO PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness – a key standardised metric for data center envelope energy efficiency) was less than 1.02 throughout the test period, which is strong evidence of the effectiveness of the facility and a figure that can is not readily seen in this category. The CAPEX/MW of the building was 20-25% lower than benchmark values of this class.
The Innovation Panels initiated in the project identified several key innovations which were then incorporated into a concept which became known as holistic cooling control. The concept of holistic cooling control was addressed at three levels: 1. instant response of the cooling equipment to the variation of server workload, where the main goals were immediate and accurate control of the cooling system based on a status/expected cooling requirements. 2. Stable constant microprocessor temperatures irrespective of the IT workloads, with the main goal of overriding the usual control of the server fans to maintain constant microprocessor temperatures. 3. a refined cooling control that accounts for all aspects of energy losses and identifying sweet spots of holistic operation.
The project’s energy consumption was covered completely by renewable sources, water consumption related to the initiative was also kept at a minimum level. Hazardous waste production was reduced by avoiding the use of UPS equipment.
The demonstration of the data center has helped further greenfield data center investments and extensions of existing facilities in Boden. The data center has been commercialized and will be expanded to 6MW with the same design principles. This creates new job opportunities as well.
The energy efficiency and waste heat reutilization activities of the project inspired some series of actions. Boden has established a dedicated energy symbiosis company that will dedicate itself to sustainable circular energy projects across different industries.
The energy symbiosis cooperation also initiated an application in the Horizon 2020 “Demonstration of systemic solutions for the territorial deployment of the circular economy”, H2020-LC-GD-2020-3.
The project and its promotion within the data center industry became a flagship of Boden that has been featured in the media. Most recently an investor group announced a major carbon-neutral steel production investment in Boden planning to establish 1000-1500 new jobs. The BTDC project played a role in creating the reputation of Boden as an ideal home for such sustainable industrial investments.
The BTDC project has contributed to the decision to invest in a new 7000m2 office building at Boden Business Park to accommodate people from industries like software game development, where the data center, energy symbiosis already have synergy effects.
BodenTypeDC One