Data centre operators can dramatically cut energy costs and their impact on the environment by doing without air conditioning, according to Facebook. The findings come from the firm’s Open Compute Project, aimed at making the social network’s IT operations as efficient as possible. Facebook said that it uses ‘100 percent outside air’ to cool all of its own data centres, and that other data centre operators are typically over-cooling their facilities when they do not really need to do this. By cutting air conditioning and making other changes as part of the Open Compute initiative, Facebook has seen an impressive 38% improvement in energy efficiency, the company claimed. Frank Frankovsky, Facebook’s vice president of hardware design and supply chain operations, said modern server hardware is much more robust than people imagine, and that Facebook has found it can operate quite happily without cooling even at temperatures as high as 35°C. Facebook had also eliminated uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units that lose energy through AC/DC conversion, and instead uses battery packs to do the same job. By adopting measures from the Open Compute Project, Facebook has managed to reduce its power usage effectiveness (PUE) index down to a typical 1.07 compared with the industry average of 1.5. The latter figure means that 50 percent of the energy drawn from the grid is going to waste in many data centres. (Source: the HVAC&R Industry, September 26, 2013).
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