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Fujitsu's green technology cools servers using CPU power

Veronica C. Silva | Nov. 10, 2011
Fujitsu plans to deploy new technology in data centres by 2014.

Fujitsu said it has developed a technology that can help resolve an industry problem of IT resources consuming too much heat. But instead of simply reducing the energy consumption of computers, the technology the company has developed also helps cool data centres, which are heavy producers of heat.

The cooling technology was developed by Fujitsu Laboratories and was presented at the 2011 International Conference on Power and Energy Engineering held last October in Shanghai.

Fujitsu said the technology uses the heat from CPUs to produce chilled water that can be used to cool server rooms, which hold many computers.

The global information technology (IT) industry has been trying to adopt a green IT approach in developing technologies used by consumers and businesses alike -- from personal computers to powerful computers in data centres. Over the years, the IT industry has come up with strategies to reduce the harm of IT in the environment. Among these include recycling, maximising the efficiency of IT products, and reducing the use of hazardous materials in IT products.

Recent industry trends have shown that businesses have come to realise the benefits of using data centres to make their operations more efficient and available to their customers - 24x7 if possible. However, while data centres can deliver almost round-the-clock services that customers want, there is a corresponding cost on the environment.

Market demand

Data centres, especially those that operate 24x7, consume too much electricity and computers in data centres need to be cooled down for these to function efficiently. Fujitsu said air conditioning to cool IT resources in a data centre accounts for 40 percent of energy consumed in the data centre.

As an illustration, Fujitsu estimates that a single server rack consumes up to 12,000 kWh per year, which is equivalent to the volume of carbon dioxide cut by 360 cedar trees. The challenge for the industry is to find ways to reduce the energy consumption of data centres while delivering efficient services to customers.

Fujitsu said it may have found the solution by using the chilled water from the CPUs as a coolant thereby reducing the power required to cool data centres.  Fujitsu said this can be done without requiring high temperatures such as what is done in most factories these days. With Fujitsu's new research, water can be chilled by the CPU heat with temperatures of only between 15°C and 18°C instead of the usual 65°C or above.

"Using water chilled by the waste heat from CPUs in air-conditioning systems can reduce total air-conditioning power requirements for a data centre by roughly 20 percent," Fujitsu Laboratories said.

The plan is to continue doing research on the technology for possible commercial deployment in 2014. Aside from possible deployment in data centres, Fujitsu Laboratories said further research will look into applications outside data centres to include factories, offices buildings, solar power generators, etc. 


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