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$42m fund for energy efficient data centre cooling

USA: The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to $42m in funding to overcome technology barriers to the development of high-performance energy efficient cooling solutions for data centres. 

Data centres account for approximately 2% of total US electricity production while data centre cooling can account for up to 40% of data centre energy usage overall. 

DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will fund projects that seek to reduce the amount of energy data centres use for cooling to lower the operational carbon footprint associated with powering and cooling data centres. 

“Creating solutions to cool data centres efficiently and reduce the associated carbon emissions supports the technological breakthroughs needed to fight climate change and secure our clean energy future,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M Granholm. 

ARPA-E’s Cooling Operations Optimised for Leaps in Energy, Reliable and Carbon Hyperefficiency for Information Processing Systems (COOLERCHIPS) funding programme aims to develop highly efficient and reliable cooling systems that will enable a new class of efficient power-dense computational systems, data centres and modular systems. 

The programme will prioritise four technical categories for cooling system innovation opportunities: 

Energy-efficient cooling solutions for next generation high power density servers
High power density modular data centers that can be operated anywhere efficiently
Software and modelling tool development to design and optimise data centres’ energy use, CO2 footprint, reliability, and cost, simultaneously
Facilities and best practices for efficient evaluation and demonstration of transformational technologies developed under the programme. 

The target for COOLERCHIPS is to reduce total cooling energy expenditure to less than 5% of a typical data centre’s IT load at any time and any US location for a high-density compute system. A data centre’s total cooling energy is the energy needed to ensure that all heat generated from its IT and non-IT loads is rejected. 

Reducing data centre cooling energy will reduce the operational CO2 footprint of data centre operations. COOLERCHIPS technologies will achieve these goals by dramatically reducing the thermal resistance of heat rejection, which will allow for coolants to exist at temperatures much closer to operating temperatures of the latest generation of chips (targeting <10°C difference between chip and coolant). This will result in more efficient heat removal from the facility. The  programme will develop solutions for high volumetric compute density systems of >79kW/m3, equivalent to about >3kW per server. COOLERCHIPS aims to be commercially competitive with current state-of-the-art solutions by offering a lower total cost of ownership without compromising data centre reliability and availability.

Further details on the COOLERCHIPS funding opportunity here.

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