How green is your data centre?

Huawei's iCooling@AI and Smart Data Centre solutions offer long-term sustainable growth

Sponsored About a year ago, several media outlets repeated the claim by The Shift Project, a French thinktank, that “the emissions generated by watching 30 minutes of Netflix is the same as driving almost four miles”.

One cannot deny the exponential growth of streaming video services and other new age technologies such as 5G, IoT and cloud computing that have created a thriving data centre industry for storing, managing and processing data. However, the direct correlation to a dramatic increase in energy use and resultant carbon emissions as a result of this growth is flawed.

Recent research by Eric Masanet and team of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University has shown that global data centres likely consumed around 205 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2018, or one per cent of global electricity use. The researchers found that, global data centre energy use likely rose by only six per cent between 2010 and 2018 despite rapid growth in demand for information services over the past decade. This means that average energy consumption per computing instance has actually decreased year on year since 2010.

While one per cent of electricity use may be at the lower end of the spectrum, multiple developments at a global and individual enterprise level are improving energy efficiency in data centres. Climate change is a shared challenge, and each enterprise has - or should - set timelines by which they will achieve their 'net zero' goals. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that energy use accounts for over two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions and if energy is at the heart of the climate change challenge, then it must also be at the heart of the solution.

As a key stakeholder, the ICT industry is furthering technical advancements in a wide array of solutions and processes that reduce energy use. Take for example, Huawei, the leading provider of ICT infrastructure and smart devices, which has developed multiple innovative technologies that help industries save energy and reduce emissions. These include smart software cooling solutions such as iCooling@AI and smart modular hardware solutions such as FusionModule2000, both of which provide long-term sustainable growth options for the data processing industry.

iCooling@AI: A cool solution for global warming

Too much hot air circulating in a data centre can cause equipment to overheat and malfunction. This is a critical concern for every data centre operator. Huawei has invested heavily in research on how to manage data centre cooling - the practice of separating hot air from cold air - to achieve efficient energy use. The outcome is iCooling@AI, an ultra-efficient cooling system that leverages big data and artificial intelligence to efficiently and accurately collect all data relating to a data centre's power efficiency. iCooling@AI then uses the deep neural network for modelling and accurately compares the created models with the data centre's operating status, which is optimised every hour. As a data centre's load increases or decreases, the cooling mode changes, leading to constant improvements in power saving that significantly reduce power consumption and waste.

China Unicom, the world's fourth largest mobile operator by subscriber base, has deployed Huawei's iCooling@AI solution in its Central Plains data centre, one of the 12 ultra-large, national data centres it has planned in the country. Located in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, it is also the only core data centre in central China to be built to the T3+/T4 standard. This means that the data centre must adhere to zero single points of failure, no single outage or error can shut down the system and the data centre must guarantee 99.995 per cent uptime per annum. Huawei's iCooling@AI solution is an important component of the data centre's near zero downtime assurance. At the same time by leveraging intelligent technologies to improve the power usage effectiveness (PUE) of data centres by eight-15 per cent, the solution helps data centres conserve millions of kWH of electricity every year to manage the global warming challenge.

Turning on Eco Mode with Huawei's Smart Data Centre Solution

Another revolutionary product from Huawei is the FusionModule 2000 - a next-generation, smart modular data centre solution that integrates power, cooling, rack, cabling and management systems. BorsodChem, a leading European plastic raw material and inorganic chemical producer, sought to achieve maximum PUE while reducing operational expenditure (OPEX) when it embarked on the construction of its ultra-green data centre to manage business expansion and explosive data growth. The company knew it had to prioritise security, efficient cooling, and ultra-reliable transmission, and Huawei's FusionModule 2000 proved a perfect fit since the modular design translated to a fast installation with flexible capacity expansion for a range of subsystems, from power supply to cooling and information technology (IT) cabinets.

For example, Huawei's UPS5000 is an energy-efficient subsystem that can be easily added to the FusionModule 2000 to ensure uninterrupted manufacturing at the company's plants. The key feature of this uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is a hibernation technology that aligns to real life service scenarios in data centres. Despite improvements in server utilisation, most servers rarely run at full capacity all the time. But rather than these idle servers consuming power that is not needed, the hibernation technology streamlines power usage to help reduce electricity costs. In concept, this is very similar to how our smartphones hibernate when not in use.

Thanks to Huawei, BorsodChem's data centre energy consumption has been cut by 20 per cent, helping the company achieve its lowest possible carbon footprint. Indeed, over the next decade, the company's carbon emissions are projected to reduce by more than 380 tonnes. Additionally, since the new data centre facility consumes less power, this translates to lower overheads and bigger cost savings, thereby increasing the competitiveness of the business. The importance of that can't be overstated.

Innovation for green growth

In a world where all things are connected, a sustainable future is only possible when both environmental protection and growth are prioritized. Huawei will continue optimising solutions to help build more energy-efficient data centres as part of a greener intelligent world that truly leverages tech for a better planet.

From March 24 to 26, Huawei will host the Industrial Digital Transformation Conference 2021 online, exploring the power of the resilient and innovative digital world from three perspectives: business, technology and ecosystems. Featuring a series of activities – from keynote speeches to forums and roundtables – the Industrial Digital Transformation Conference 2021 will be an open and inclusive platform that serves as the backdrop for in-depth, ambitious dialogue. For more information or to sign up, please click here.

Sponsored by Huawei.

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