HP generated a lot of buzz earlier this year when it announced Dynamic Smart Cooling, its new system for advanced management of data center power and cooling. The product won't be available until this fall, and enters full production in early 2008. In the meantime, HP executives are evangelizing the new offering at industry events.
On Tuesday, HP blade system infrastructure technologist Ken Baker briefed attendees at DataCenterDynamics 2007 in New York on the capabilities of Dynamic Smart Cooling (DSC). Baker said HP is currently implementing DSC at the six new data centers it is building in Atlanta, Austin and Houston as part of a massive consolidation of its worldwide data centers. "We're going to eat our own dog food on this, because we really believe in it," said Baker, who said early estimates suggest DSC could save the company about $8 million in power and cooling costs in just one of its new 100,000 square foot facilities in Austin.
Dynamic Smart Cooling is designed to provide precise targeting of air-conditioning systems in response to changes in server temperatures. The system deploys sensors throughout the data center, which communicate with the AC systems. The "smart" piece is the system's use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling to understand the flow of air within the data center and route the cold air to the hot server. HP says the approach can cut cooling costs by 20 to 45 percent as it turns AC systems on or off as temperatures rise and fall.
Baker said HP spent a lot of time investigating its cooling options while contemplating DSC. "We tried a lot of different technologies," Baker said. "At the end of the day, good old air fan cooling has proven to be the way to go in most cases."
Data center operators spent more than $10 billion on cooling in 2005, according to IDC data. Baker said cooling can represent 63% of data center power spending. "As an industry, we are being beaten on every day to become more efficient because we are beginning to exceed capacities in the buildings where this equipment needs to go," he said. "Our attention is now focused beyond the chassis and into the data center in itself.
"CFD modeling has been around for four or five years and it's a good tool," said Baker. "The problem is that it's a snapshot; a point in time. Dynamic Smart cooling offers a real-time demographic model of the facility. The purpose is to manage inlet temperatures within a set range. (AC) capacity is adjusted on-the-fly, and if we lose in the air handler, we can sense it immediately and react immediately."
A benefit of DSC, Baker said, is that it will allow data center operators to pinpoint any overlap of cooling zones from individual computer room air conditioner (CRAC) units, allowing for adjustments to prevent separate CRAC units from cooling the same space twice. "I think we all intuitively know there are overlaps," said Baker. "We just don't know where they are. With our sensor network we can see it, and react immediately."
When pressed about pricing, Baker said HP had not finalized its pricing but "our target is a three year ROI (return on investment)." Baker said HP is currently working with Liebert and Siemens as its primary partners DSC, and asked for feedback on which other vendor products HP should look at when writing new drivers for interdependencies with third-party equipment.