A green data centre does not only help to save the environment but also provides organisations with cost savings. This was illustrated by The National Institute of Education (NIE) Singapore's green data centre that was built and started operating in 2012. The NIE Singapore is an Institute of Higher Learning in Singapore.
NIE Singapore's green data centre, which is also its primary data centre, supports the enterprise applications for administration, pedagogy, education, research and many other demands of its students, faculty, staff, partners, alumni and visitors to the Institute.
"With the growing demands for computing resources, more efforts and cost were needed to sustain the usability of the ageing data centre components," said Chan Wai Mun Alex, manager of Data Centre and Operations, Computer Services Centre (CSC) at NIE Singapore. "The existing data centre was thus replaced with a new one equipped with the latest technologies. This would help to fulfil the needs of the Institute for the next decade," added Chan.
Features of the green data centre
Besides being able to cope with the growing future needs of the Institute, the new data centre had to be energy efficient in order to provide cost savings for NIE Singapore. To do so, a hybrid data centre cooling system and a cold aisle containment system were implemented in its green data centre. The data centre also featured an easy-to-maintain cabling and lightings system that consume less power.
Traditionally, the air-cooled Computer Room Air-Conditioning (CRAC) units are constantly turned on to cool the data centre. This setup requires almost an equivalent amount of energy to negate the heat generated by the IT load, which in turn, causes a traditional data centre to carry an average Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of above 2.0. Chan said that in order to achieve power savings and a lower PUE in its new data centre, NIE Singapore deploys a hybrid data centre cooling system that utilises the chilled water to supply cool air to the data centre most of the time. By doing so, savings are found in electrical charges and power consumption.
Instead of continual cooling of the entire data centre, NIE Singapore used the cold aisle containment (CAC) system to lower the temperature of specific areas, thereby helping to decrease power consumption. Chan explained that the IT racks must first be arranged with hot and cold aisles, where each front door of the IT rack is directly facing the front door of another IT rack, and likewise for the back door of the IT racks. He said: "This creates a hot aisle (back-to-back facing) and cold aisle (front-to-front facing). Hot air is then concentrated between two rows of back-facing IT racks. The cold air from the CRAC units is then delivered to the cold aisle from the raised floor, feeding the cold air to all the equipment within the IT racks. The CAC system is hence able to use a containment to effectively keep the cold air within the containment, ensuring that cold air is delivered to the front doors of the IT racks. To further optimise the cold air, all the open gaps within the IT racks are covered up with blanking panels. This prevents cold air from escaping through the gaps to the back of the IT racks."
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