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EC Announces New Data Centre Efficiency Programme

Cool Em All Landscape
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The Cool Em All project will develop monitoring software and open source server plans to make scientific computerse more efficient

The European Commission has announced a project designed to tackle energy efficiency in data centres and will release a set of open source hardware designs for a high-density server.

The CoolEmAll project, which has enlisted the support of universities and vendors, will also deliver monitoring software as part of a wider goal to reduce data centre energy consumption.

Open source hardware specs

Andrew Donoghue

“A whole sub-industry has emerged in recent years around lowering data centre energy and carbon costs,” said analyst Andrew Donoghue of the451, a participant in the project, in a statement. “Some commercial suppliers (most notably Datacenter Infrastructure Management suppliers) and consultants have recently begun to take a more all-encompassing approach to the problem by straddling both IT and facilities equipment. However, few suppliers or researchers up to now have attempted to include the crucial role of workloads and applications.”

Two main tools developed by the project will help to evaluate data centre and High Performance Computing (HPC) energy efficiency by looking at the interaction of hardware, data centre facilities such as heating and cooling and the role of applications in energy and carbon efficiency.

The Simulation Visualisation and Decision support (SVD) tool kit will allow data centre planners to model the energy efficiency implications of the physical placement of servers within a facility and different approaches to cooling, while it will also assess the role played by applications and workload.

A set of open source designs for the RECS Compute Box, a high density server developed by German start-up Christmann Informationstechnik, will also be created. It is hoped that these designs will allow other projects or commercial data centre operators to build on the research conducted by the CoolEmAll project.

HPC Hub

The Cool Em All project will assist the EC in its goal of making Europe a leader in HPC and it has plans to double its investment from €360 million (£230m) to €1.2 billion (£765m), with half of that earmarked for development, training and the development of new centres of excellence, creating thousands of jobs.

“It’s investments like HPC that deliver innovations improving daily life. We’ve got to invest smartly in this field because we cannot afford to leave it to our competitors,” commented Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice president for the Digital Agenda.

Last year, Facebook open sourced the server and data specifications employed in its Oregon data centre in the Open Compute project, which has attracted members such as Intel, Asus, Huawei, Red Hat and a number of research and education institutions. The Facebook data centre – despite initially being criticised by Facebook for its use of coal-fired electricity – has received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification from the US Green Building Council.