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IBM, ABB Working to Reduce Data Center Power Consumption
The cost of data center power continues to increase as the global consumption of data and the associated management is not likely to diminish. How can progressive companies embrace the opportunities this data presents without breaking their budgets to support the drain on data?
A recent DatacenterDynamics piece focused on a project launched by ABB and IBM (News - Alert). The two companies are working together to develop a solution to rising data center power consumption. Supercomputers are being used by scientists at IBM’s Zurich lab and the Swiss power firm ABB to study and hopefully develop a new high-voltage insulator to effectively improve the efficiency of electricity transmissions.
If successful, this improved insulator could help transform the power grid by reducing the energy lost and associated outages caused by material deterioration when the grid is exposed to weather. When electricity is generated it is transmitted from the power station to the end user through underground cables or overhead power lines. As much as seven percent of that energy is lost during transmission as a result of the insulation system.
According to Dr. Philip Shemella at IBM Research – Zurich, the use of supercomputers simulated at the molecular level enables researchers to recreate damage that occurs within the network due to the environment. This process helps to design insulators that are more efficient and reliable to help reduce data center power consumption.
This data center power project was started more than two years ago and consists of simulated molecular dynamics of the insulators, which are made of silicon rubber. Scientists are aiming to better understand the physical processes and potential for improved design methods for high-voltage insulation materials.
For this project, scientists are using an IBM Blue Gene/P supercomputer and massively parallel algorithms to simulate and study the individual molecules used in silicon rubber. The aim is to better understand how it reacts to damage caused by the environment to help develop new insulators for minimizing data center power consumption.
The advanced simulations and computing power enabled the scientists to simulate realistic models of the material, made up of roughly one million atoms. Once these simulations are complete, new materials will be tested in the silicon rubber composition to improve resiliency to damage.
"Currently, we are running simulations to study how a drop of water affects the reliability of the insulating material. Surprisingly, this is very significant, particularly when it is extrapolated across the entire power grid," added Shemella, in the Data Center Dynamics piece.
The success of this project could help to reduce data center power consumption within the enterprise and lead to a standard for electricity transmission that is far superior to that which exists today. The superior approach not only reduces costs, but also creates a more efficient and sustainable environment.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Carrie Schmelkin
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