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Driving Down Data Center Power Consumption Through Thermal Management Optimization
Keywords: Data Center , Liquid Cooling, Energy Efficiency
Microprocessors and the other highly-integrated devices used in servers dissipate more thermal energy as they operate at higher temperatures. Before the advent of silicon-on-insulator (SOI) and other process innovations, it appeared that the temperature-dependent leakage currents might be the major roadblock to further innovation in silicon-based computing technology. Though now significantly diminished, research presented in this paper demonstrates that a significant correlation between power dissipation and processor core temperature still exists. In one specific case, a current generation processor exhibits a dependence of at least 0.7 W increased power dissipation per degree C increase in processor core temperature. With 90% power conversion efficiency, this translates to 0.77 W/degree C. Reducing the temperature of a processor by 50 degrees C, possible through liquid cooling at the component level, can reduce its power consumption by 25% or more. To demonstrate how this temperature-dependent power dissipation will impact a very dense data center, a detailed model of a current high performance computing system was developed. The results show an optimal operating point for minimum energy usage that results from the trade-off between increased power for cooling systems and decreased power from processor dissipation. This model is then compared to one employing liquid cooling, which demonstrates the significant energy savings that can be achieved in this manner.
Timothy A. Shedd, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI

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