Korean Telco KT Claims New Data Center Can Break ASHRAE's Ceiling
KT recently held a forum in Seul dedicated to its idea of “GiGAtopia,” where many devices are interconnected through the Internet, where Dr. Jeon Gil-nam (pictured), a computer scientist described as “the father of the Internet in Korea,” spoke. (Photo: KT)

Korean Telco KT Claims New Data Center Can Break ASHRAE's Ceiling

Company says its new data center can run at 86 F, well above standard industry practice.

KT, one of Korea’s largest telecoms, is expanding its cloud offerings and data center capacity in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province. The company is also doing a few interesting things to make the data center more environmentally friendly and energy efficient, including operating it at higher temperatures than standard industry practice.

Like virtually all of the world's other major telcos, the company is focusing on cloud services because of a sluggish wired network business. KT has 10 data centers in Korea and recently expanded in Cheonan with a new annex building. The company plans on another addition to Cheonan in 2015.

Data center cooling is a big cost for operators. Supplying warmer air to the data center floor reduces the amount of energy a cooling system consumes and subsequently reduces the cost.

KT can set its data-hall ambient temperature at the high end and occasionally above the upper limit of the 2008 ASHRAE standards. The company said it succeeded in developing a technology that allowed it to operate server rooms at 27 C (about 80 F) in 2012. Now it has raised that temperature further.

Server rooms in the second annex building can be run at up to 86 F, which can save up to 36 percent on air conditioning, according to KT. Most data centers operate between 68 F and 72 F, but ASHRAE has expanded the envelope over the years.

The first edition of the ASHRAE guidelines in 2004 created a recommended upper limit of 77 F. The second edition in 2008 recommended an upper limit of 81 degrees. Google and others have increased the data center temperature to 80 F.

“I am glad to show to the world our newest smart energy technology. In preparation for the upcoming ‘Gigatopia’ era in which data requirements increase at an explosive rate, we at KT will lead the initiative in creating new super energy-saving data centers,” said KT chairman Hwang Chang-gyu.

KT is building out in modules, which reduces the time it takes to get additional data center capacity up and running. Modular construction helped get the new building online in five months. It cost about 40 percent less than the first one, the company said, due to new server technology.

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