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Power and cooling: The Oak Ridge way

25 Megawatts, 6.6 tons of cooling, more on the way

Video You think you have power and cooling issues? Slip into the shoes of Arthur ‘Buddy’ Bland, Project Director for the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, and learn how they keep one of the largest computing facilities in the world powered up, yet cool enough to prevent melting.

I talked to Buddy recently about how Oak Ridge designs their data centers and systems to make the most of the power they consume.

Oak Ridge is one of the world’s most efficient large data centers with a PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) score of 1.25. PUE is a measure of data center efficiency: the total power going into the building is compared to the amount of juice consumed by IT gear.

Oak Ridge's 1.25 PUE means that for every watt of electricity that’s used to produce work on systems, there is an additional .25 being consumed by cooling and by losses from power distribution. By comparison, Google has one of the lowest PUE averages at around 1.12 – 1.13, and estimates for typical data centers run from 1.6 to more than 2.0.

Some of the nuggets from my conversation with Buddy include:

  • How they’re upgrading Jaguar to increase system performance by almost 800 per cent while increasing power consumption by only 30 per cent
  • How to run cable when your raised floor is raised only 8 inches
  • Why 480 volts is better than 240
  • Why liquid cooling is the only way to go
  • Iceland as the perfect data center location

We also discuss Oak Ridge efforts to help improve how the rest of the industry measures power consumption, and how they’re looking to bring their PUE down even further. It involves a lake and a fair amount of pipe....

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