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“Energy Optimizer” Lets Data Centers Conserve Energy While Meeting Efficiency Goals

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A wireless monitoring system provides continually updated information on a data center's electrical usage and thermal status, giving users the precise knowledge to take energy-conservation measures while maximizing the operational efficiency and reliability of their servers and other computing equipment. The Arch Rock Energy Optimizer-Data Center Edition (AREO-DC) measures both power and cooling system efficiency in the data center using non-disruptive Internet Protocol (IP)-based wireless sensor networks. It lets data center managers: identify the factors that cause energy waste (e.g., short-cycling, missing blanking panels, sub-floor obstructions) or "hot spots" and other harmful conditions, and correct these problems to reduce existing power consumption or allow the facility to support more equipment. They can then optimize available capacity for new servers based on the actual electrical/cooling consumption of equipment, rather than the overstated "nameplate" ratings.

AREO-DC works by deploying wireless sensors to measure electrical, thermal, flow and pressure conditions on power circuits, server racks, computer-room air conditioners (CRACs) or air handlers (CRAHs), chillers and underneath the raised computer-room floor. The sensed data is then transmitted via wireless sensor networks to a graphical, multi-window dashboard that shows the electricity load (and associated utility rate-adjusted spend rate) of various equipment, electricity usage by physical or functional area over user-selected time intervals; temperature and humidity data from CRACs, CRAHs, server racks and chillers over time; chiller water-flow rates; "heat maps" superimposed on a floor plan; and key performance indicators such as the Green Grid organization's Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) Level 3 standard.

From the AREO-DC dashboard, users can drill down to specific data centers and specific racks within a data center, and bring up side-by-side views of various factors, such as energy usage vis-à-vis indoor and/or outdoor temperature. Alerts can be generated when heat- and energy-use thresholds or user-defined financial thresholds are exceeded.

AREO-DC can help data center managers, for example, pinpoint improper mixing of hot and cold air such as conditions that may lead to insufficient cold air pressure at rack inlets, top-of-rack hot spots, or cooling-plant overcompensation. It can verify the existence of short-cycling or conditions that cause suboptimal CRAC/CRAH operation. In addition, it can obtain an accurate PUE figure in mixed-use environments by measuring the cooling load of the data center relative to that of the entire facility, and combining this with measurement of the central cooling plant's electrical consumption. And it can measure outside air temperature and humidity to identify air or water free-cooling opportunities through the use of HVAC economizers or cooling towers rather than costly use of compressors and refrigerants.

Data from the various sensor nodes is processed and displayed by the Energy Portal, which is a Web-based application that displays detailed energy and thermal usage data in graphical and tabular formats. All wireless nodes are battery-operated with an optional AC wall adapter, and support over-the-air (OTA) software upgrades.

An example starter configuration including the Energy Portal software (one-year subscription to hosted service), one PhyNet Router, three IPpower Nodes (monitoring up to nine circuits), four IPthermal-XT nodes (up to 28 temperature measurement points and four humidity points), one IPthermal-HT node (up to four combined thermal and humidity measurement points), two IPpressure nodes (up to six differential pressure measurement points), and two IPrelay (extender) nodes, is priced at $9,995 (U.S. list).

Arch Rock, San Francisco, CA. (415) 692-0828. [www.archrock.com].