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Data Storage Power Earth HP

HP's New Data Center Cooled By Glacial Wind 116

Posted by timothy
from the heating-up-the-whole-outdoors dept.
Arvisp writes with this snippet about HP's recently completed datacenter in northeast England, which utilizes the glacial wind blowing off the North Sea to lower temperatures of IT equipment and plant rooms: "The Wynyard takes in the cool air, filters it accordingly and collects it in the management system and is then forced over the front of the server racks before it is exhausted. The result is a hall with a constant temperature of 24C. When the winds become even colder than usual, the exhausted heat is mixed with the outside air to maintain temperatures."
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HP's New Data Center Cooled By Glacial Wind

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  • Canada exporting cold (in whatever form) to California.

    • by hvm2hvm (1208954)
      More like California exporting heat to Canada (if you look at it energy wise) but I suppose California is more need of cooling than Canada is in need of heating.
    • by c6gunner (950153)

      Canada exporting cold (in whatever form) to California.

      But we already sent you Celine Dion ...

  • by johnw (3725) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @03:39PM (#31129680)

    Bad news for the story writer - global warming is so far advanced that the North Sea is no longer glaciated.

    And the land bridge between England and France has been swept away by the melt water!

    • by ZaMoose (24734)

      It's from a .au site -- perhaps "glacial" means "arctic" or "frigid" in Native Aussie English?

      Just a guess.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 13, 2010 @04:09PM (#31129922)

        I think "glacial" in Native Aussie English means "too cold to fry an egg on the pavement".

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nedlohs (1335013)

        glacial - adj
        1. (Earth Sciences / Geological Science) characterized by the presence of masses of ice
        2. (Earth Sciences / Geological Science) relating to, caused by, or deposited by a glacier
        3. extremely cold; icy
        4. cold or hostile in manner a glacial look
        5. (Chemistry) (of a chemical compound) of or tending to form crystals that resemble ice glacial acetic acid
        6. very slow in progress a glacial pace

        Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. © William Collins Sons &

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iggymanz (596061)

      dang, the same thing happened here in North America, the native americans can't walk back to visit their relatives in Mongolia any more. They should have used some forsitght and done "cap and trade" instead of making all those carbon dioxide emitting cooking fires!

  • While people who live in the North East of England would probably say the wind "were a bit chilly" most of the year, the nearest glaciers to Billingham would be in Norway, not exactly close enough to influence weather patterns...
  • Glacial... (Score:2, Informative)

    by fremsley471 (792813)
    The mean annual ambient temperature outside the data-centre is about 9.5 C. Glacial, by definition, is an annual average below 0 C

    Source: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/averages/ukmapavge.html# [metoffice.gov.uk], although you'll have to do the last few clicks to get the correct chart.

  • What is so special about this?

    Toronto has been using water from lake Ontario [toronto.ca] to cool the downtown core for years.

    • Air is not water. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NixieBunny (859050) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @04:10PM (#31129926) Homepage
      Cooling with outside air is a bit trickier, since the temperature of the air changes much more quickly. We do this in the computer room of a radio telescope on a 3500m high mountaintop. The AC system has an "economizer" feature provided to cool with outside air, which has been modified to use proportional control to get a much more steady room temperature than the original bang-bang controller. That's needed to keep the analog signal levels from drifting too quickly and messing up the Dicke switching (go look that up). Not so important in a datacenter.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by murrdpirate (944127)
        It's really not that tricky. All you need are temperature/humidity probes for the outdoor air and the return air and a control sequence that knows to use outdoor air instead of return air whenever the temp/humidity of the outdoor air is better. As you said, this is what an economizer does. There's nothing unusual about them, in fact they're required by code in many climates that have cool/dry air.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DerekLyons (302214)

          It's not tricky with the bang-bang type of controller typical of consumer systems which are heating and cooling relatively tolerant loads like people. Where it gets tricky is where you need to maintain a steady state temperature and flow in order to avoid disruption of sensitive electronics.
           
          (IOW: I get really annoyed when slashdotters say "all you need is 'X'", without the slightest clue as to what the real requirements or complexities are.)

          • Well, I'm an HVAC engineer so I do have at least a slight clue. If the electronics require extremely precise control, then the A/C system will be tricky no matter what. Involving an economizer is not going to cause a giant leap in trickiness.
            • Well, I'm an HVAC engineer so I do have at least a slight clue

                Very slight as demonstrated by the statement you made.
               

              If the electronics require extremely precise control, then the A/C system will be tricky no matter what.

              Well, then maybe you should try reading what you replied to originally. If you had, then you'd have seen where they stated they required precise control.

              • What I'm saying is that the use of an economizer doesn't add much complexity to the system. If the A/C system requires precise control, then the control system will be complex whether you use an economizer or not. A data center load can easily fluctuate more than the outdoor air. Adding an economizer to an already complex system such as this does not add that much complexity. Talk to me about the issue if you want to talk. (IOW: I get really annoyed by immature dicks.)
      • by Trepidity (597)

        Dicke switching (go look that up)

        With safesearch off, I'm not quite sure these [google.com] are the right results...

  • . . . great views out your data center window . . . great opportunities for winter sports fans . . . oh, and did I mention the mountain climbing . . . ?

    • by JReykdal (637757)

      . . . great views out your data center window . . . great opportunities for winter sports fans . . . oh, and did I mention the mountain climbing . . . ?

      Iceland is prepping for large datacenters with Artic AC systems :)

    • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      Alaska will be before the Himalayas.

      Theres talk about a big fibre project up here to connect the villages and hubs (Nome, Bethel, etc) fibre, cool weather and alot of NG for power would make for good data centers.

  • ...then this [google.com] is an interesting read.
    • Note that the hard disk temperature is usually higher than the room temperature.

    • by afidel (530433)
      75.2 isn't much hotter than I keep my datacenter where the setpoint is 72+2, ie the compressors run until they get the room to 72 and then don't kick in again till it gets to 74.
  • Salt Spray? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by b4upoo (166390) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @04:09PM (#31129920)

    Air blowing over sea water usually contains quite a bit of salt. I wonder how they will deal with the salt. People who live on beach front homes are versed in repair costs to their homes and cars from salt ait.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rugatero (1292060)
      Given the site's proximity to Middlesbrough, I'm sure there will be plenty of local expertise in air filtration.
  • Is it just me or does anyone else think that a great contributor to global warming is the method with which we create and consume power. We produce most of the electricity with steam and that steam needs to cool off before it can become steam again. They way that steam is cooled is either with water or surrounding air. Every nuclear reactor needs to be next to a river if the outside air is not cold enough. The river on which our reactor is built is 4C hotter after it passes the power plant because it's used
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Is it just me or does anyone else think that a great contributor to global warming is the method with which we create and consume power.

      Classic nerd joke: "This device consumes electricity and thus contributes to the heat death of the universe". Okay, maybe quotes are inappropriate, I don't recall the precise wording. Some scruz geeks stuck them on various items in homes and Uni buildings. An excellent warning label for microwaves, or really any electric heaters since we burn fuel for heat, make electricity from it, transfer it electrically, then turn it into heat again, with the predictable losses from repeated conversion. At least it's an

      • And of the light emitted by the monitor, almost all of it gets absorbed by the walls and other things in your room, and therefore also converted into heat. If you want to reduce that, you can put your monitor with the display towards the window, so that some of its light can leave the room and go directly into space. Of course that only works for clear sky (and only if you have a clear view to the sky, so cut that tree in front of your window!), so you better don't work when the weather is bad. :-)

        • by Tynin (634655)
          If I remember my reading of what Maxwell's Demon was about, your description of venting light out your window so it doesn't become trapped heat in the house is remarkably close to it... and then to have that as your /. handle... great stuff :)
    • Umm, hate to break it to you, but both creating and consuming power can't defy thermodynamics, specifically 2nd law.
      • Which part of my comment violates the 2nd law which says the thermal energy can only flow from hot to cold objects?
    • by timeOday (582209)
      Actually, no, dissipated energy from power plants or computers is not what causes global warming. They are insignificant compared to the sun. What causes global warming is increased retention of solar energy in the atmosphere due to greenhouse gasses, such as methane and COs. Now, the river just downstream from a nuclear power plant can certainly be warmed thus changing that little bit of the environment quite drastically, but that is not "global" warming.

      As for this application specifically, even thou

    • Is it just me or does anyone else think that a great contributor to global warming is the method with which we create and consume power.

      Yes. Especially the burning of fossil fuels. However, it's not the heat generated; that is negligible compared to the energy the sun delivers all the time. The problem is that the CO2 we release into the atmosphere reduces the amount of solar heat the earth can give back into space.

      We produce most of the electricity with steam and that steam needs to cool off before it can

  • So in other words, HP's new data center is heating the glacial wind. That means... they're going to melt the glaciers!!!111!
  • by miller60 (554835) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @04:26PM (#31130040) Homepage
    The source article misses some of the coolest design features of this facility. It has the equivalent of a 12-foot high raised floor [datacenterknowledge.com], using the entire lower level of the facility as a cooling plenum. The fans bring the cool North Sea air into the lower chamber, and they manage the pressure to direct the air up into the server area. There's also a Computerworld story [computerworld.com] with more details but an erroneous headline that suggests that it's the "first-ever" wind cooled data center. The story makes it clear that the facility has chillers as backup for when the wind dies down or air temperature doesn't support free cooling. Both Microsoft [datacenterknowledge.com] and Google [slashdot.org] are already running data centers with no on-site chillers.
    • by Colin Smith (2679)

      Servers are N Units high. Most are 2 or 3 units. So why lie them flat and try to force air front to back when it wants to rise?

      Rotate the servers 90 so they are vertical and leave an approx 1U air gap between them.

      And while we're reconfiguring the shape of rack servers. Please put the network ports, console ports at the front, the power ports at the back.
       

      • by afidel (530433)
        Because the fans and heatsinks are designed to work in a certain orientation? It's not like convection will move much air (G4 cube comes to mind, even with a big volume it was barely kept in design limits). Oh and I HATE rackmount stuff with front network ports, means I have to use a 1U blanking panel and cut holes for the cables since the racks are all designed for normal equipment. The exception of course is switches where having the ports in front makes sense, but those go into a different kind of rack w
      • by evilviper (135110)

        So why lie them flat and try to force air front to back when it wants to rise?

        A) You don't want 10% of the servers at the bottom getting ice build-up, while 20% at the top are about to burst into flames... Feeding the output from one server to the input of another is a bad idea.

        B) It would be a horribly inefficient use of space to have your server taking up 0.5 meters vertically, and sprawling out across the floor.

        C) Convection is horrendously weak. A little fan blowing horizontally probably provides 1,00

    • It also didn't mention that EDS had this Data Center planned, designed and construction underway BEFORE the "merger" (aka purchase of EDS accounts not people) with HP. HP didn't know much about running Data Centers until they bought EDS, and now they are taking credit for the work done by EDS before HP bought them.
      • ya, EDS really knew how to run a data center--the terms 'incompetence' and 'corruption' spring to mind
        • Strong words, got proof? I'm sure some folks at HP and thier lawyers would like to discuss this with you.
          • a cursory glance at the mainstream UK news media will provide all the proof you need
            or parliamentary reports for that matter
            also guessing their lawyers are a bit busy coping with the billions of pounds of compensation claims against them
            though they did have a crooked labour peer [timesonline.co.uk] in their pockets [thisislondon.co.uk]
            you could start here [theregister.co.uk] or here [wikipedia.org]
            • I know the situation you mention, it was discussed here a while ago. In the USA it wouldn't be anything to take to court. As I recall all this "promise" was verbal and wasn't actually in the contracts. As I understand it there is also some blame to go towards SkyB, after all they SIGNED the contract with the different terms. In most countries a signed contract trumps any verbal agreement.I think SkyB have some people in thier pockets as well and there could also be some other vendors such as IBM "helping" o
              • the situation singular? "EDS has been involved in a parade of government IT failures, budget overruns and data losses in recent years, including but not limited to the National Offender Management Information Service, the tax credits system, the Defence Information Infrastructure and the Child Support Agency." (the register)
                it took them years to actually stump up the £71.25mil to the govt after the tax creds disaster and even then only on condition of further govt contracts
                the parliamentary committee
  • We have been doing this in Montana for a long time. When the AC units get frozen over we start pumping filtered air from the outside into the server room.
  • Man really is causing global warming.

    All those x64 boxes would make the planet Mercury look like a winter wonderland. Now, if they just switched to ARM chips.....

  • ...the gulf stream goes back to its normal route via Europe [dailykos.com]...

    I hope it does not only work because of the current exceptionally cold situation.

    That would be a *DOH* of epic propotions. ;)

    • Hey moderidiots! This was a serious question! Not a flamebait!

      So stop assuming everyone is an ass, just because you are a angry pessimist!

      We should really only give mod points to people, who got any empathic competence.
      But I guess, here at Slashdot, that would come down to the handful of people who actually got a woman/gf. ;)

  • Guess it's a step in the right direction though, but really not that exciting all in all. I mean cooling by means of cold breeze, BFD. Instead of stopping at using the cold air to cool those racks they should take the full step and figure out a way to re-use the heat energy. Maybe some kind of thermocouple or Peltier system that takes advantage of the temperature difference between the hot server room and the "glacial winds". Or some kind of heat pump arrangement. Now that would be cool, pardon the pun.

  • Artic my a$$ (Score:4, Interesting)

    by viking80 (697716) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @07:30PM (#31131240) Journal

    I live across the north sea from the datacenter in a place called Norway. Where this ice cold wind supposedly blows from, and it aint here. As has been well known since the vikings raided that part of England, the winds actually blows *from* England *to* Norway 95% of the time. And here in Norway, it is a warm wet wind blowing from England, and it dumps a lot of rain in western Norway. The result is that even at 61 deg north, the winters are mostly rain, not snow. And in the summers, the ocean temperature is higher than Santa Cruz, CA. Compare that to Anchorage, AK at same latitude!

    • I'd mod you up if I hadn't posted already. As someone studying oceans and climate, I never cease to be amazed by how much the ocean currents mess with localized climate. I'm in the northern US, going to school with some Danish kids. For being substantially further south, they're getting their asses kicked by winter here.

      It's far colder in the winter here, and far warmer in the summer. Mid-continent is no place for anyone to want to live.
  • Seems like a great way to actually warm the globe up to counteract this global warming(which is actually cooling).... but then again all this change of climate(seasons) would seem to be normal, as the weather usually does not stay the same! through the week, year, century, or millennium.

    BTW Personally I think algore is a lying profiteer, but that's my opinion... or I could be like algore and say it is a proven fact ;)
    • Why is it that, every time there is a story about energy saving measures (which, after all, is what this story is about) someone comes out with the old canard about how the world is cooling really?
      • by FragHARD (640825)
        Why you ask?....Hmmmm let me think about that ..... thinking.... Oh that's right this is slashdot! In the first place I didn't read the story in it's entirety, I was responding to fellow slashdotters including yourself ;) And why is it when someone posts a text disagreeing with the so-called 'facts' in weather trends(which look more like a giant work of hyperbole) they get deemed a provider deceptions? Was it because I said something about the honorable MR Albert Arnold Gore that you thought wasn't accurate
        • by Slashcrap (869349)

          Why you ask?....Hmmmm let me think about that ..... thinking.... Oh that's right this is slashdot! In the first place I didn't read the story in it's entirety, I was responding to fellow slashdotters including yourself ;) And why is it when someone posts a text disagreeing with the so-called 'facts' in weather trends(which look more like a giant work of hyperbole) they get deemed a provider deceptions? Was it because I said something about the honorable MR Albert Arnold Gore that you thought wasn't accurate??? Talk about a provider of deceptions...'an inconvenient truth' yeah right,what a crock... more like 'a convenient canard' has a better ring to it anyways ;)

          And remember this is slashdot ;) Have fun!!!

          You are either 12 years old, or your brain is broken. Either way, fuck off.

  • Glacial? Well, the North Sea off NE England is around 6C [wzkarten.de] at the moment but that's not what I'd call glacial. Last summer (not exactly a "scorcher") it reached 15C, the year before, 16C.
    All of this ignores the obvious problem that the prevailing wind over the UK is a SW'ly - and thus the cooling from the sea won't really happen except in summer when sea breezes set in. Indeed, in the winter coastal areas are often warmer than inland. The recent easterlies and NE'lies over England recently have been pretty
  • I suppose it could be said to be a glacial wind if it is from the North East, and thus blowing from Norway. After all the nearest glaciers in that direction are only 700km away...

    I note, however, that the link is to an Australian site, so by their standards it is pretty cold in this part of the world.

  • There is so much hot air in data centers these days.

... when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. -- Fred Brooks

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