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Yahoo reveals data center efficiency details

Yahoo reveals data center efficiency details

Among other major data center builders, Google (www.google.com) and Microsoft (www.microsoft.com), that have been known to maintain secrecy over their data center efficiency, the most secretive of them all, Yahoo (www.yahoo.com), has revealed a number of innovations in cooling design and energy efficiency ratings, and they fall in the same ball park as its rivals, according to a Data Center Knowledge report.

Yahoo chief architect, Adam Bechtel, who is responsible for network, storage, and systems at Yahoo, presented "Machines or MegaWatts" to a San Jose, California audience at the O'Reilly Velocity 2009 conference (en.oreilly.com/velocity2009/), in which he discussed how naming conventions did not fit many aspects of Yahoo!'s infrastructure as it grew.

According to Rich Miller's Data Center Knowledge report, Bechtel shared details of a pod-based system, which involves server cabinets being grouped into "podules" with an overhead cooling module providing a cold-aisle as opposed to standard raised floor cooling. This patented data center design has helped Yahoo lower its Power Usage Effectiveness, which compares a facility's total power usage to the amount of power used by the IT equipment. Bechtel said its PUE was 1.21, nearly matching the best numbers reported by Google and slightly surpassing Microsoft's lowest PUE.

According to material filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, Yahoo's data center rack enclosures in some instances involve tightly packed server racks, even employing clamps and/or sealing gaskets to further reduce air leakage. The server cooling fans draw cold air from cold row encapsulation structure from the front face of the server racks and to eject hot air from the back side of the server racks.

Yahoo also suggests that cold water may be used to exchange heat with hot air in the cooling module. While the patent presents a closed air system configuration, it also suggests mixing outside cool air to cool the servers to take advantage of "free cooling."

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