Modular vs. Raised Floor: Which Data Center Design Is Better?

Oct. 22, 2013
The design of the center itself significantly impacts energy consumption.

Nonstop cooling needs and heavy-duty computing equipment are obvious contributors to data center energy needs, but did you know the design of the center itself can account for a significant energy expense?

To compare modular data centers with raised floor ones, software-defined data center developer IO partnered with local utility Arizona Public Service to analyze energy consumption at two data centers within the company’s Phoenix facility. Because both data centers were located in the same geographical area and shared the same maintenance staff and chiller plant, the utility was able to compare the two centers more accurately.

The utility monitored power usage effectiveness (PUE), a measure of how much power is used by equipment vs. cooling and other overhead costs, for 2012. It discovered that the traditional build-out environment had a PUE of 1.73, while the modular environment boasted a PUE of 1.41, translating to an annual savings of roughly $200,000 per mW over the traditional design. Both were significantly below the global average of 1.8-1.9 for traditional data centers.

“The portion of PUE above 1.0 denotes energy not going to IT equipment. That’s where efficiencies can be found,” notes Patrick Flynn, IO’s lead sustainability strategist.

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