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HP Power Hardware

Is a "Net Zero" Data Center Possible? 160

miller60 writes "HP Labs is developing a concept for a 'net zero' data center — a facility that combines on-site solar power, fresh air cooling and advanced workload scheduling to operate with no net energy from the utility grid. HP is testing its ideas in a small data center in Palo Alto with a 134kW solar array and four ProLiant servers. The proof-of-concept confronts challenges often seen in solar implementations, including the array's modest capacity and a limited window of generation hours – namely, when the sun shines. HP's approach focuses on boosting server utilization, juggling critical and non-critical loads, and making the most of every hour of solar generation. Can this concept work at scale?"
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Is a "Net Zero" Data Center Possible?

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  • Am I the only one (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 31, 2012 @12:39AM (#40163631)

    That thought this "Net Zero"?

  • by jakimfett ( 2629943 ) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @01:22AM (#40163839) Homepage Journal

    How is that a test? Four servers is a nerd's basement.

    At the very least, they can do a cost analysis of the setup. Sure, it's only 4 servers. But if it's possible to do with four, then they can extrapolate to forty, or four hundred. Granted, there are things that don't scale perfectly...things like cooling, cost of raised floors, the building itself...but now they have hard data about how many solar panels they need to make it a net electrical drain of zero.

  • by subreality ( 157447 ) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @01:23AM (#40163845)

    ... Then the answer is probably no. I used to stack Dells floor to ceiling in the racks and never had a problem with power. Just interleave a PDU every so often and plug 'em all in.

    Then I got a job at an HP shop. Started putting DL360s and DL380s in a rack. Breaker pops. Break out the clamp meter. No, the breaker's no defective. Those things GUZZLED. I have no idea what they did with the extra juice.

    Anyway, if that's what they're using, they should forget about it. But perhaps their hardware has improved since then. People are paying more attention to power these days.

  • by pLnCrZy ( 583109 ) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @02:20AM (#40163993)

    Efficiently evacuating the heat output is a different issue than dumping excess cold air into a room to compensate for lack of the former.

    I've been in "warm" data centers that focus on getting rid of the heat rather than overcooling the intake -- the servers were perfectly happy and their energy costs were quite reasonable.

  • by Sussurros ( 2457406 ) on Thursday May 31, 2012 @02:48AM (#40164063)
    You do know that solar panels won't work in the basement...

    I know it's a cheap joke but I'm a cheap kind of guy. My favourite basement of all time is Dean Kamen's (inventor of sedgway, half the equipment in the hospitals, and lots more - our modern day good guy Tesla and bad guy Edison all rolled into one) from his youth.

    When he was a schoolkid he snuck into a museum one night and rewired the lighting of a single section. The next day he applied for the contract to do the whole museum and got laughed out of the door because he was a kid, until he told them to look at the section he had done the previous night. He narrowly avoided arrest and got the contract instead and did an excellent job.

    With the money he earned he paid for a vacation for his parents and while they were away he had the family house removed from its blocks, a huge basement dug then filled with heavy lathes and state of the art engineerng goodies, and then had the house reseated.

    To cover the extent of the cavernous basement he had to install a new patio over the part that the house didn't cover and when his parents came home they were thrilled to see the wonderful new patio he had built for them.

    That was his last year in high school, and I'm sure that a few solar panels and clever power management wouldn't have been enough to run that particular glorious basement.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...