Data Centre


Supermicro is, like, totally harnessing green energy sources to churn out servers, dude

Fuel cell tech generates cleaner power for San Jose plant

By Chris Mellor


Supermicro has said it will start building servers and storage boxes at a new facility that can make 600 racks per month, powered by a 3MW fuel cell system to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

It opened the first of five production hubs – Building 21 at its Green Computing Park in San Jose – in March last year, near its 1.5 million ft2 (139,354m2) worldwide headquarters, product development and manufacturing space in Rock Lane.

That was a 182,000 ft2 (16,908m2) facility, which generated electricity from an on-site fuel cell system reckoned overall to save over $30m in energy costs over 10 years when fully deployed. This was compared to having electricity delivered from an external supplier.

The new rack integration centre has an automated 60-rack burn-in facility with Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) to carry the servers to it from the assembly lines. This, Supermicro says, improves efficiency, savings and reduces safety concerns.

The fuel cell system provides the majority of the facility's energy and should enable Supermicro to reduce its projected energy costs by $8m over 10 years. It is configured to maintain critical operations during grid outages.

Supermicro's Bloom boxes

A Bloom Energy Server system is used, which converts natural gas into electricity using a "highly efficient electrochemical reaction without combustion". That is claimed to virtually eliminate smog-forming particulates and the NOx and SOx emissions generated by conventional power plants.

Bloom uses solid oxide fuel cell technology operating at high temperatures, typically above 800°C, with the reaction generating heat.

In the first phase of Building 21 development it had a 1MW fuel cell with 0.5MW dedicated to the building's Uninterruptible Power Module for critical loads. There has since been a 2MW expansion to reach a total capacity of 3MW.

A Bloom ES-5710 Energy Server, known as a Bloom Box, delivers 250kW, and you would need 12 to produce 3MW. These Energy Servers are typically mounted outside a building and each has a parking space-sized footprint.

A third building in Supermicro's Green Computing Park – number 22 – had its grand opening ceremony last week. ®

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