Researchers at the University of California at San Diego are launching an experiment to test and improve the energy efficiency of computing systems used for scientific research.
Making computer processing and storage systems more energy efficient is much needed because the information-technology industry, which currently consumes as much energy as the airline industry, keeps on growing. This growth is in part fueled by highly data-intensive scientific research, which demands huge computing facilities that consume large amounts of electricity, not only to power them, but also to cool them.
The GreenLight project, which plans to connect labs to computing systems more energy efficiently by using photonics instead of optical fiber, is being financed by the National Science Foundation, which will provide $2-million over three years, and the UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology and the university’s Administrative Computing and Telecommunications group, which will bring an additional $600,000 to the study.
With the funds, UCSD will acquire two Sun Modular Datacenter S20s, the university said yesterday in a press release. These containers can host up to 280 servers and reduce cooling costs by up to 40 percent compared to traditional server rooms.
The GreenLight project will monitor several parameters in the data center, such as temperature, humidity, and energy consumption, while other scientists are using the servers for their own experiments. The GreenLight researchers will then use this data to find out how to minimize the computers’ energy consumption, to explore the use of new cooling sources, and to develop software that automates the optimizing of power for each particular computing process. —Maria José Viñas