HP, Eaton Team on Pod-Style Enclosures

A grant for $7.4 million from the Department of Energy will accelerate the development of new enclosures that can improve the energy efficiency of existing data centers, according to HP and Eaton Corp., which are teaming on the project.

The enclosures offer data center operators the ability to apply the design benefits of modular pod architectures to a small space within an existing facility. The HP/Eaton enclosure will be offered in 50 kilowatt and 100 kilowatt sizes, optimized for four to eight racks of equipment. The unit will require hookups for power and chilled water, much like a data center container.

The enclosure will feature in-row chilled water cooling and accept a high-voltage 480 volt power connection to reduce the loss from conversions during power distribution, with both AC and DC power options available. In its funding announcement, the DOE noted that the design allows for a DC system to allow the integration of renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power. 

Focused on Retrofits
“We’re talking about fixing the data centers that customers have today, and that’s what the DOE liked about our proposal,” said Doug Oathout, HP’s VP of Converged Infrastructure. “It’s giving you more flexibility within the data center. This solution works on a raised floor or slab, but is designed to fit on the raised floor. It’s really self-contained.”

Eaton and HP began working together on the enclosure project last August, with plans for a phased implementation of the various features of the enclosure. The DOE funding allows  additional development teams to work concurrently, speeding the time to market.

HP and Eaton aren’t alone in seeking to compartmentalize existing data center space for improved management. IBM has introduced a 200 square foot Modular High Density Zone that allows users to quickly create a high-density zone within a low-density data center.

Ideal for Consolidation
HP says its 100 kilowatt enclosure will allow users to slash energy costs by up to 38 percent compared to traditional raised floor implementations. Oathout said the solution will be  ideal for companies doing server and storage consolidation with a hardware refresh, or building a private cloud.

The appeal of the enclosure will be its ability to offer higher density and improved energy efficiency in the same square footage within an existing data center. The modular nature of the solution gives customers the option of a rolling implementation

Oathout said the new enclosure will be available in three ways:

  • Kits that combine different components  for end-users and HP installers to assemble on-site
  • Kits that allow HP partners to assemble the enclosures for their customers.
  • A full service offering installation, migration and maintenance from HP.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. These types of initiatives are starting to become very critical for the future of the data center. Server technology is consuming too much power and generating far too much heat for the traditional data center models. I have also seen a few asian third party mfg's experimenting with similar solutions - the best one was water chilled rack enclosures (hope they don't spring a leak) :)

  2. I suppose one could make a conceptual comparison to a Performance Optimized Data Center (POD), but on the other hand, there are key differences to point out. To get us on the right starting point, a POD has huge capacity for 3,520 compute nodes or 12,000 LFF hard drives, or any combination, in a 40-foot container. It delivers the equivalent of 4,000 square feet of traditional data center space, providing customers with support for HP and 3rd party technologies, providing ultimate container flexibility and a power capacity up to 27kW per rack. Now that we’ve defined the POD, here are some of the notable distinctions and why folks and companies should be paying attention to what this joint HP/Eaton DOE project (in its future end state) might mean to them. First off, the HP/Eaton joint DOE project will be much more compact and will be designed to fit into an existing data center—rather than replacing or expanding a data center. This container will be in 100kW increments and can be distributed over a four, six, or eight rack setup (the cooling unit adds another two racks to those numbers) ranging from 12.5kW in the eight-rack configuration up to 25kW per rack in the four-rack configuration. The flexibility of where this can be deployed is another point. As long as power and water are made available, this solution can go into a raised floor environment, into a remote office site, co-lo, or even onto a concrete slab. This solution would lead to better use of existing data centers, making portions more efficient from the IT equipment through to cooling, since the DOE project will be self-contained with a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.25 or lower. The entire system can be configured-to-order with the software, hardware, power and cooling systems ready to go so that it can just be rolled into place and turned on. All that combined means that the DOE project will be a very compact, highly-efficient, easily deployed IT to power to cooling solution for existing data centers, co-located environments, or remote sites.