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World’s first tropical data center on trial in Singapore

01 Jun 2016

In a bid to advance data center technology and invest in becoming a smart nation, Singapore is trialling the world’s first tropical data center (TDC).

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), in partnership with industry experts, is setting up a data center to operate it in a tropical environment and test its feasibility.

The proof-of-concept would aim to prove whether data centers can function optimally at temperatures of up to 38 degrees Celsius and ambient humidity up to or exceeding 90%.

According to the IDA, the trial will test how data servers react under various ‘live’ situations, such as peak surges or transferring of data, and in diverse conditions, such as with no temperature or humidity controls. The trial servers will run with simulated data. 

If successful, the TDC could significantly reduce global energy consumption by data centers by allowing for higher operating temperatures and humidity levels, according to the IDA.

Data centers are currently cooled to between 20 to 25 degrees Celsius and kept to within 50 to 60% relative ambient humidity for safety. The TDCs could reduce energy costs by up to 40%, and reduce carbon emissions.

IDA is partnering Dell, ERS, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei, Intel, Keppel Data Centers, The Green Grid, and Nanyang Technological University for the trial. Partners are providing hardware, software and expertise for analysis. The proof-of-concept TDC will be set up in the third quarter of 2016 within a controlled test environment in a Keppel Data Centers facility.

Khoong Hock Yun, IDA assistant chief executive, says, “With Singapore’s continued growth as a premium hub for data centers, we want to develop new technologies and standards that allow us to operate advanced data centers in the most energy efficient way in a tropical climate.  

“New ideas and approaches, such as raising either the ambient temperature or humidity, will be tested to see if these can greatly increase our energy efficiency, with insignificant impact on the critical data center operations."

“To create new value in our Smart Nation journey, we need to embrace an attitude of experimentation, to be willing to develop new ideas together, and test the feasibility of progressive and positive technological advancements that has a good possibility to enhance our industry's competitiveness," Yun says.

This trial builds upon IDA’s Green Data Center Innovation Hub initiative that is part of the Green Data Center Programme (GDCP) launched in late 2014. The GDCP aims to boost overall data centre energy efficiency through innovation, pilot emerging technologies, and formulate new guidelines for sustainable computing.

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