This past May, we reported that IBM broke ground on what was supposed to be the world's most efficient data center—a $12.4 million, 6,000-square-foot facility at Syracuse University that uses 50% less energy than typical data centers. And now, six months later, the data center is ready for action—just as the company also announced a new chip that will help power its Blue Waters supercomputer next year. It could become the world's fastest and would be housed in what will likely be a considerably less green building at the University of Illinois.
But back to that Syracuse data center. Is it really the world's greenest?
According to IBM, the data center differentiates itself by focusing on energy-efficient construction in addition to hardware and software. So instead of just paying attention to server efficiency, IBM also uses an on-site co-generation system with gas-fueled microturbine engines that generates electricity and also water-cools server racks. At the same time, heat from the engines cools data center hardware and uses extra heat to warm up campus buildings.
It's hard to say if these features come together to make IBM's data center the world's most efficient. The data center is at the very least being given a run for its money by Helsinki's new underground data center that also pipes heat to area homes. But it's still a model for future corporate and university data centers. Check out a video of the facility below.