IBM Japan and NTT think they can make datacenter aircon adjust to different workloads

They're measuring server exhaust temperatures to detect power consumption

Datacenters make a lot of hot air, and IBM Japan and NTT Group's in-house integrator NTT Comware think they can use it to calculate power consumption and CO2 emissions – and maybe reduce both.

Their technique uses temperature sensors placed around a datacenter – an approach that means servers don't need to be reconfigured to produce useful data about the heat they produce.

The two orgs tested their tech in Japan last year, in NTT Comware's own datacenter, and found a strong correlation between exhaust heat temperature and power consumption.

Because this is 2024, that correlation was found with the help of a machine learning model that neither party has detailed. The Register imagines at the very least the model will need to take into account the by-design temperature differences found around a datacenter, and perhaps also be able to infer that a large hot server is full of large hot GPUs.

The pair are productizing their efforts, through Big Blue's Maximo asset management software.

Among the features the partners hope to deliver is precise control of air conditioning systems based on an understanding of servers' collective power consumption.

Datacenter operators are the target for this tech and it's not hard to see why: cooling is one of their major costs and they need to provide enough of it to keep all tenants' kit humming at full capacity.

While servers can report on their performance, isolation and privacy are the foundation of datacenter hosting services. Sniffing the wind to gather the data needed to optimize cooling therefore offers datacenter operators a chance to improve their operations without scaring customers, potentially reducing costs … and maybe passing those savings on to tenants.

Even if that doesn't happen, power savings that reduce CO2 emissions will be widely welcomed.

IBM and NTT expect that their efforts could also be used to create more efficient hardware and software.

A demo of the tech in action is on offer in IBM's new Japanese HQ in Toranomon Hills Station Tower. Cherry blossoms will start blooming there in a few weeks – another reason for a visit. ®

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