TalkTalk energy efficiency credentials walk the walk
A new TalkTalk data centre that will use a third less energy than the industry average has opened in Wiltshire, prompting further calls for an energy certification scheme for the industry.
The idea of data centres having a simple mark - akin to those found on household appliances - that shows how efficient they are has been touted for some time.
Supporters say it would ensure that big customers would require minimum scores from their data centres and drive the market for pioneering, uber-efficient centres.
Speaking to edie.net, TalkTalk head of network services Dave Mullender said there is certainly a need for more transparency. "It's not often data centres shout about their efficiency ratings - unless they are very good. More transparency would allow customers to make an informed choice."
Data Centre P1 is, according to owners TalkTalk, one of the most efficient and low-carbon data centres in Europe and could save customers considerable amounts.
Efficiency in data centres is measured by power usage effectiveness (PUE) - the number of amps required from the grid to deliver one amp of power to the equipment 'racks' housing the servers.
In older centres the racks have a PUE of 2.5 amps - in other words, 1.5 amps is 'wasted' in the process of providing 1 amp of power to the rack. The industry average is 1.8 while at P1 the PUE is 1.25. Extrapolate this to 10 racks and P1 is using 876,000 kWH of power, costing around £87,000 a year, compared to an industry average of 1.26m kWH and £126,000 a year.
"The concept of having a data centre that wastes energy is abhorrent," said Mullender. "That's a pragmatic approach and not an eco-warrier approach."
One of the biggest issues for data centres is keeping equipment cool. Mullender explained that the new centre is designed to deliver cooling where it's required - "we focus our air on where it is needed rather than just sending it around the whole facility". Inside, there is an adiabatic cooling system which uses water vapour to cool the air drawn in from outside. Critically, explained Mullender, there is no compromise on services.
"We didn't want a wacky mechanism of saving energy if it was going to reduce the reliability of our service," he said.
The type of energy used to fuel power-hungry data centres has also been receiving more attention of late. Facebook has committed to powering its operations - including its data centres - using renewable energy after a two-year feud with Greenpeace. Hewlett-Packard also recently unveiled a centre that will use local renewable sources, reducing the dependence on the grid by up to 80%.