Yahoo Computing Coop: Shape of Things to Come?
April 26th, 2010 By: Rich Miller
Yes, they really do look like huge chicken coops. But for Yahoo, the savings generated by the new Yahoo Computing Coop will be anything but chicken feed.
The Yahoo Computing Coop (YCC) is the culmination of a five-year effort to completely rethink the company’s data center design. While rivals at Google and Microsoft have gotten more attention for data center innovations, the Yahoo team has been quietly refining its approach to building faster, cheaper data centers that will be dramatically more efficient than previous facilities.
The company’s new data center in Lockport, New York is the first implementation of the YCC. The first phase of the project is in the commissioning stage, and is expected to enter production next month. The data center operates with no chillers, and will require water for only a handful of days each year. Yahoo projects that the new facility will operate at a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.1, placing it among the most efficient in the industry.
Air Handler With Servers Inside
“The building itself is an air handler,” says Scott Noteboom, the Director of Data Center Operations for Yahoo. “The entire building is meant to breathe, and there’s a lot of louvers and dampers to control the airflow.”
The Yahoo Computing Coops are prefabricated metal structures measuring about 120 feet long by 60 feet wide. Each of the three coops has louvers built into the side to allow cool air to enter the computing area. The air then flows through two rows of cabinets and into a contained center hot aisle, which has a chimney on top. The chimney directs the waste heat into the top of the facility, where it can either be recirculated or vented through the cupola. See A Closer Look at Yahoo’s New Data Center for more photos and video.
If it looks like a chicken coop, it’s because some of the design principles were adapted from …. well, chicken coops. “Tyson Foods has done research involving facilities with the heat source in the center of the facility, looking at how to evacuate the hot air,” said Noteboom. “We applied a lot of similar thought to our data center.”
The Lockport site is ideal for fresh air cooling, with a climate that allows Yahoo to operate for nearly the entire year without using air conditioning for its servers.
Only 9 Days Without Free Cooling
“In Buffalo, there will only be about 212 hours a year where we can’t use free cooling,” said Noteboom, who said the facility will use an evaporative cooling system during those 9 days or so when it is too warm to use fresh air. The buildings were positioned on the Lockport property to allow Yahoo to bring in cool air from either side of the coop, based on the prevailing winds.
“We designed it to so we can control intake from either side of the building, adjusting the percentage of intake (through the louvers),” Noteboom said. “It’s continually monitored and automatically adjusted.
“We have almost completely eliminated traditional mechanical air handling and traditional mechanical cooling,” he added. “We have been working on this since 2005.”
Efficiency Drives Lower Cost
Each of the three YCC wings uses about 3.6 megawatts of power. The rows of cabinets are grouped in 200 kilowatt increments, with each segment supported by a custom rotary UPS from Active Power (ACPW). The result is a project that costs about $5 million per megawatt, said Noteboom. Cooling is a key driver of those economics.
“We are at less than 1 percent of our (energy) cost to cool,” he said. “For every dollar we’re spending, we’re spending one cent to cool.” That’s down from more than 50 percent in some earlier data center designs used by Yahoo.
The prefabricated construction of the YCC allows the data center to come together quickly. “The goal in this design has been to complete the project in six months from dirt,” said Noteboom. “Phase 2 (which will add two more YCC units) is really validating that. We’ll start in May and be completed in November.”
Sustainability has been a major focus for Yahoo, and its Lockport facility has already been praised by Greenpeace for its use of hydro-electric power and overall focus on sustainability. At a time of growing focus on the amount of water used to cool major data centers, Yahoo is using very little water in its Lockport facility.
“The only time we using water is the 212 hours a year where we need to use the cooling system,” said Noteboom. “We’ve been really lucky. What’s been good for the environment has been good for business as well.”
Bob LPosted April 26th, 2010
Wick’d cool Yahoo!
Now sell the technology to others so we can take advantage of what you have done.
[...] chicken coops. According to an article on Rich Miller’s excellent data center-focused site Data Center Knowledge, next month Yahoo will start production on a data center in Lockport, New York that will be the [...]
How greatly did the Flywheel based UPSs from Active Power redice the reliability and Yahoo’s SLA agreements?
Sal CPosted April 27th, 2010
Great Ideas. How are they handling the air quality, possible corrosion and impurity build-up on electronic componects and humidity control ?
These are major factors associated with Data Center design.
Tuesday data center tidbits: #cloudcomputing negative hype, Yahoo data center cooling. « The Server RoomPosted April 27th, 2010
[...] is reading about the Yahoo computing “coop” data center design being the shape of things to come. Using clerestory monitors for cooling is more like shades of the past (these are clerestory [...]
[...] week DataCenterKnowledge.com is running a great article on a Yahoo!’s new datacenter design, cleverly called the Yahoo! Computing Coop. I say [...]
With all that roof area, are there any plans to add PV panels?
ErikPosted May 13th, 2010
Most Excellent! They need to paint some “Yahoo Data Farm” billboards on the roof for the total retro look.
Sal C –
I would guess that intake filtration is a big part of what they are doing. People say “free cooling” even when powering fans for air exchange since they are not using chillers and the power need is so much less. And they may be using indirect evaporative cooling for those hours a year when they need it. Indirect evap cools air with evaporation and then uses that to cool the air entering the space across a heat exchanger. Not quite as efficient but better air quality.
Greg Surfas P.E.Posted May 13th, 2010
If it is 95 degrees and 75% Rh in the summer as it will get there, the “coolest” the coops will get is 95 degrees. I think there is something missiong from this equation
ChrisPosted May 31st, 2010
“I think there is something missiong from this equation”
Techies wearing double layer ski jackets?
BAPosted June 3rd, 2010
[...] new ideas, good schools, and a regional plan that leverages our assets. Good government hears the news that the new data center Yahoo built in chilly Lockport uses less energy for cooling, from …and makes a plan to capitalize on it. I am sympathetic to the idea, and to the broken hearts of so [...]
[...] Yahoo’s computing coop [...]
ChrisPosted April 26th, 2011
“Techies wearing double layer ski jackets?”
Moderately increased fan speeds for 200 hours per year.