S’pore to test uncooled data storage

PSA Keppel Distripark in Singapore. Source: Flickr

Singapore is trialling the first-ever tropical data centre (TDC) to push for more environmentally friendly data technology storage.

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) said it was operating the tropical centre to test its feasibility.

IDA assistant chief executive Khoong Hock Yun announced: “New ideas and approaches, such as raising either the ambient temperature or humidity, will be tested to see if these can greatly increase our energy efficiency, with insignificant impact on the critical data centre operations.”

The firm said in a press release: “The proof-of-concept would aim to prove, among others, whether data centres can function optimally at temperatures of up to 38 degrees Celsius and ambient humidity up to or exceeding 90 per cent.”

The trial aimed to determine how data services coped with the island’s extreme heat during peak surges and in diverse conditions, without temperature or humidity controls, IDA said.

“If successful, the TDC could significantly reduce global energy consumption by data centres by allowing for higher operating temperatures and humidity levels. Data centres are currently cooled to between 20 to 25 degrees Celsius and kept to within 50 to 60 per cent relative ambient humidity for safety,” the firm said.

Communications and Information Minister Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said the trials would be conducted later this year.

Currently data centre’s main operating costs are energy to maintain controlled environments.

In 2012, data centres accounted for 7 per cent of the city-state’s energy demand, and are estimated to reach 12 per cent of total demand by 2030 due to the rising number of data centres in Singapore.

It is estimated that the TDC could cut energy consumption by up to 40 per cent.

Yaacob said: “We will work with partners to test whether data centres can be operated in temperature and humidity levels that are double the current norm.

“If successful, it would prove that data centres need not be run in tightly controlled cooled environments. Not only will it expand the geographical limitation of siting data centres, it will also cut back on the existing energy requirements for the running of such centres,” the minister said.

Under the trial, IDA will work with Dell, ERS, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei, Intel, Keppel Data Centres, the Green Grid and Nanyang Technological University. The TDC is being set up in a Keppel data centre controlled environment.