Greening The Data Center in the HPC scenario

I have been writing on Green Data Centers for 6 years.  This month I hit 2 year anniversary working for GigaOm Research, and thanks to the folks at Verne Global who sponsored a white paper on the Green Data Center topic here is a just released paper for GigaOm Research subscribers on The Value of Green HPC.

Jonathan Koomey, Tate Cantrell, RMS and BMW were interviewed for the paper and provided valuable perspectives the current state of greening a data center in a specific use case, HPC (High Performance Computing).

Table of Contents

The value of green HPC

 Oct. 30, 2013
This report underwritten by: Verne Global
1Executive Summary

Forward-thinking CIOs are anticipating increased regulation of carbon emissions and want lower and more-predictable energy costs over the long term. As part of that process, they are looking at ways to go green. They know that data centers are under scrutiny for how sustainable they are, and they know that demand for data center services is growing while the costs of fossil fuels are already high, getting higher, and becoming difficult to predict.

Green data centers present one solution because they use renewable energy sources, have efficient data center facilities, and use efficient IT equipment. The savings these data centers offer can be transformed into more processing power, which gives new opportunities for increased business revenue. Many of these data centers are located where they can take advantage of an area’s natural resources (cool climates, for example) and sources of power such as wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric.

However, not all applications are suitable for offloading to a data center, whether it’s green or not. Deciding which applications can be placed in a green data center while still satisfying business and performance specifications is critical to success. Among the candidates to consider are high-performance computing (HPC) applications. HPC was once limited to scientific research, but many businesses now use it to analyze large amounts of data and to create simulations and models. HPC applications are compute-intensive and, when applied at scale, require large amounts of energy. However, because users of these applications don’t require real-time responses, you have flexibility in where you place these applications. This means that you can take advantage of the lower energy costs a green data center offers, no matter where it’s located. This report analyzes these topics as well as the following areas:

  • Three factors to consider in choosing a green data center for HPC are the source of the data center’s power, the efficiency of its IT equipment, and the data center’s efficiency.
  • Today’s CIOs have the options of building a new data center, refurbishing an existing data center, using co-location, and using the cloud. Each option needs to be balanced against the following criteria: the requirements of increased data center traffic, government regulations, volatile energy costs, and sustainable practices.
  • Latency is the single most important criterion for choosing the appropriate applications for cloud or co-location. Following latency, other considerations are whether the application must peer with another company, the business requirements, the application architecture, current and predicted application workload, and the application’s resource consumption rate.