So how does the new Brownrice data center measure up to the rest of the data center industry? First some background and then the numbers!
The Metric: PUE
The data center industry uses a fairly simple metric called Power Usage Effectiveness, or “PUE.” While there is legitimate debate about whether PUE is the best way to measure power efficiency it does seem to get right to the core of the matter: How much extra power do you consume to cool your servers and keep the lights on?
The utopian PUE would be 1.0, which would mean that 100% of electrical usage would be consumed by servers and no electricity would be used by cooling and lighting. Unless your servers were outside in a never-changing 70 degree temperature and dust-and-moisture-free environment, a 1.0 PUE isn’t going to happen.
Our Strategy: Hot aisle-containment and Outside Air Cooling.
We built our data center by drawing from our experiences in our old server room – lots of trial and error there by the way – and by aiming to fully utilize the dry, predominantly cool, outside air that we have here at the 7,000′ elevation of our Northern New Mexico location. We also studied how Google (PUE as low as 1.1) and Facebook (real-time PUE dashboard, PUE 1.08) have been building their newest data centers and came up with a plan to build ours to maximize energy efficiency but do it on a small-business budget.
So how did we do it? Big, industrial fans! Hot-aisle containment! And lots of duct work, air-filters, and automation! I’ll leave the technical details for another post, but for now I’ll say that we’re all extremely pleased with how secure, reliable, efficient, and affordable our data center has turned out to be. And holy-cow does it look cool!
The final numbers:
Our summer PUE: 1.35 (when AC is on during the hottest days)
Our winter PUE: 1.15 (when the AC is never on)
Considering that the average PUE of all data centers in the industry is over 2.0, and that large data centers have scale advantages over small ones, we’re extremely happy with what we’ve built. And we’re currently over-cooling our data center! So the more equipment we host the better our PUE will become.
Next on our energy efficiency hit-list: A solar array to power it all!
Questions? Ask them in the comments below and I’ll be happy to try and answer them.