Microsoft Blog Post – Thinking Out of the Box – Chicago Container Data Center

DataCenterKnowldge has a post about Microsoft’s Chicago Data Center.

Microsoft: PUE of 1.22 for Data Center Containers

October 20th, 2008 : Rich Miller

Microsoft says its testing shows that the data center containers it is installing in its new Chicago data center are extraordinarily energy efficient. The 40-foot shipping containers packed with servers can deliver a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) energy efficiency rating of 1.22, which rivals recent PUEs reported by Google. Microsoft’s Mike Manos revealed the PUE numbers in a blog post about the Chicago data center, which has just completed its first phase of construction.

Mike Manos’ original post is here.

The specifics about the Green and PUE is below.

The other thing which is important is the energy efficiency of the containers. Now I want to be careful here as the reporting of efficiency numbers can be a dangerous exercise in the blogo-sphere. But our testing shows that our containers in Chicago can deliver an average PUE of 1.22 with an AVERAGE ANNUAL PEAK PUE of 1.36. I break these two numbers out separately because there is still some debate (at least in the circles I travel in) on which of these metrics is more meaningful.  Regardless of your position on which is more meaningful, you have to admit those numbers are pretty darn compelling.


For the purists and math-heads out there, Microsoft includes house lighting and office loads in our PUE calculation. They are required to run the facility so we count them as overhead.

On the “Sustainability” side of containers it’s also interesting to note that shipping 2500 servers in one big container has a positive reduction on the CO2 related to transportation, let alone the amount of packaging material eliminated.

So in my mind, containers are driving huge cost and efficiency (read also as cost benefits in addition to “green” benefits) gains for the business.  This is an extremely important point, as Microsoft expands its data center infrastructure, it is supremely important that we follow an established smart growth methodology for our facilities that is designed to prevent overbuilding—and thus avoid associated costs to the environment and to our shareholders.  We are a business after all.  We must do all of this while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for Microsoft’s Online and Live services.