RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay (right) and NTU Provost Professor Bertil Andersson at the opening of the NTU HPC Centre. (Photo courtesy of Nanyang Technological University)
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is working with the National IT Standards Committee to develop a Green Data Centre standard for use in Singapore. The standard will help organisations establish systems and processes necessary to improve the energy efficiency of their data centres by providing them with a recognised framework and a methodology to achieve continuous improvement in their data
Speaking at the official launch of Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) High Performance Computing (HPC) Centre in February, RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer of IDA, said the aim of the project is to nurture a support ecosystem around Green Data Centres to boost the adoption of greener and more efficient data centres.
Data centres are huge consumers of energy. According to a 2008 study by the McKinsey-Uptime Institute, the average data centre consumes energy equivalent to 25,000 households. Furthermore, this energy use is growing at a phenomenal rate due to the growth of cloud-based services and online video.
In Singapore, commercial data centre space is forecast to grow 71 per cent over the next five years, according to the 2009 BroadGroup report “Data Centres in South East Asia”. Data centre-related costs have also continued to skyrocket largely driven by energy costs - which now make up as much as 50 per cent of the operating cost.
Consequently, there are significant opportunities for cost savings by adopting Green Data Centre technologies. In the United States (US) alone, it is estimated that up to US$5 billion can be saved in power costs annually if the data centres were to go “green”, said the US Environmental Protection Agency in its “Report to Congress on Data Center and Server Energy Efficiency” in 2007.
The supercomputer at the NTU HPC Centre is ranked the 6th most energy efficient in the world based on x86 architecture. (Photo courtesy of Nanyang Technological University)
However, one major hurdle in the adoption of Green Data Centre technologies has been the lack of widely-accepted Green Data Centre standards and metrics. This makes it difficult to evaluate claims regarding data centre energy efficiency or to compare energy efficiency gains across data centres. The lack of standards also makes it difficult for the Government to adopt a Green Data Centre procurement policy or to implement incentive programmes to promote adoption of Green Data Centres.
IDA’s efforts to develop a Green Data Centre standard is aimed at removing this hurdle in order to accelerate the adoption of Green Data Centres. IDA is also open to working with firms to examine the potential for using Singapore as a living lab to demonstrate the technical and financial feasibility of next generation green-enabling ICT technologies which promise to boost efficiency, cut costs and lower emissions.
“Fostering synergies among different players in the infocomm ecosystem will increase its vibrancy, and also lead to new business opportunities,” said Mr Tay.
He cited the example of the NTU HPC Centre, which was the result of a collaboration between NTU, IBM, Red Hat and Jardine One Solution. “We encourage more industry players to come together to advance high value research activities, and hence enable innovation in the infocomm ecosystem and the development of transformational technological capabilities.”
The supercomputer at the NTU HPC Centre is ranked the 6th most energy efficient in the world based on x86 architecture – the universal platform found in computers today, and the 29th most energy-efficient system on the Green500 list at 274.64 Mflops (millions of floating point operations per second) per watt. It reduces electricity consumption as it can automatically adjust to specified energy usage levels and specified transaction speeds.