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European Commission funds research into datacenter cooling

CoolEmAll program to focus on server design and monitoring softwareA new European Commission-funded project aims to tackle the energy-efficiency implications of increasing investment in new datacenters. The CoolEmAll programme will take a holistic approach to improving datacenter energy efficiency covering not just the role of IT hardware and facilities equipment but also the applications they ultimately support. The project will deliver and enhance two key tools (monitoring software and a prototype server design) to help datacenters monitor and manage their energy consumption. The CoolEmAll project, along with other EC-funded datacentre and HPC projects should benefit from this investment and HPC’s higher profile in general. Members of the project consortium include several high-profile HPC research organisations such as Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center (PSNC) and the High Performance Computing Centre University of Stuttgart (HLRS). Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President responsible for the Digital Agenda, has said that HPC is a crucial enabler for European industry and for more jobs in Europe. “It’s investments like HPC that deliver innovations improving daily life. We’ve got to invest smartly in this field because we cannot afford to leave it to our competitors.” The CoolEmAll project addresses an important aspect of HPC - energy efficiency. Supercomputers, and their related datacentre infrastructure, consume large amounts of energy and resources. The CoolEmAll project will evaluate datacentre and HPC energy efficiency by looking at the interaction of high performance computing hardware, datacentre facilities (heating and cooling) as well as the role of applications in energy and carbon efficiency. The project will develop two key tools to help monitor and manage datacentre energy consumption: · Simulation, Visualisation and Decision support (SVD) toolkit – The SVD toolkit is a real-time Computational Fluid Dynamics modelling tool. It will allow datacentre planners to model the energy efficiency implications of physical placement of servers within a facility, different approaches to cooling, as well as the role played by applications and workload. · Blueprints/designs of energy-efficient hardware – The other main outcome of the project will be a set of open source designs based on a high-density server known as the RECS | Compute Box developed by German start-up Christmann informationstechnik. These designs, along with the SVD toolkit, should allow other projects, or potentially commercial datacentre operators, to build on the research done by the CoolEmAll consortium. The energy efficiency goals of the CoolEmAll project are particularly relevant given the EC’s February 2012 announcement about establishing Europe as a leader in High Performance Computing (HPC). The EC plans to double its investment in HPC from €630 million to €1.2 billion. Half of the budget is earmarked for development and training and for new centres of excellence, creating thousands of jobs.
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