Summary:

The competition is getting fierce when it comes to who has the greenest and the most energy-efficient data centers (and that’s a good thing). HP announced Monday morning that it has launched what it says is the world’s most efficient modular data center.

New Hot Aisle

The competition is getting fierce when it comes to who has the greenest, the cleanest and the most energy-efficient data centers (and that’s a good thing). HP announced Monday morning that it has launched what it’s calling “the world’s most efficient modular data center,” which can be set up in just 12 weeks — faster than its competitors, says HP.

HP says the new modular data center — dubbed the HP EcoPOD —  costs a quarter of the price (with a potentially 75-percent lower capital investment) compared to a standard-built data center. At the same time it uses 95 percent of the energy of a traditional data center. The target customer for the EcoPOD are Internet companies that want to add increments of new server capacity, or are deploying temporary or emergency data center capacity.

The EcoPOD shrinks a typical 10,000-square-foot data center into a tenth of that size, and still holds 4,400 servers and 44 racks, designed around either two cold aisles or a shared eight-foot hot aisle. HP says its EcoPODs can get a PUE — the standard data center efficiency metric — of 1.05, which is rock bottom low (1 is perfectly optimized). Though, remember to take companies’ PUE figures with a grain of salt.

HP has been working on this data-center-in-a-box technology for years. See below Stacey’s video interview with an HP exec in one of its modular data centers back in 2008. But HP says this is the most efficient version of its modular data center tech, and HP is only selling the new EcoPODs in limited distribution right now, with plans to ramp up that distribution later in the year.

Other data center designers and Internet companies are working on similar modular data center tech. Microsoft has been selling its green pre-fab “data center in a box” technology, called ITPAC (IT pre-assembled components), to customers like the United Nations for its new office in Nairobi, Kenya. ITPAC is actually manufactured by air cooling company Saiver, and the tech uses outside air for cooling, which cuts out the power-hungry chillers that are used in most data centers to keep servers cool. Microsoft says its ITPAC tech can get PUE figures of 1.05 to 1.15.

Yahoo’s VP of Data Center Engineering & Operations Scott Noteboom told me last year that he thinks high PUEs for Internet companies’ data centers will not be a sustainable competitive offering going forward. That’s an “exciting change that has happened in this business recently,” Noteboom said.

A lot of the energy efficiency data center technologies are figuring out ways to tap into outside air for cooling, and as Google recently noted, there’s a variety of easy to deploy tactics that can be used to reduce the energy consumption for standard and medium to small data centers. Facebook also put a spotlight on green data centers recently when it open-sourced its green data center designs.

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