Unit Under Test #1

The initial UUT for the Wild Server Project is an HP DL380. We call this first UUT, Ashley. What better test subject could we hope for but a server commonly found in so many data centers! This is a G4 device, which lived its initial life in a proper controlled data center environment. It is a dual Xeon processor server, and comes to us completely refurbished and with warranty.

Unit Under Test #1 Photos

Behind the Wild Server Project

Energy consumption in the data center has become a global issue. It’s been estimated that (in 2012) data centers account for as much energy usage per year as the countries of Italy and Spain. In the United States, data centers are said to account for as much as 3% of the total annual energy use of the country. Across the globe, governments have taken notice and have begun to establish operational governance guidelines and even financial penalties for lack of progress in CO2 reduction.

Our growing societal and industrial reliance on information systems is only increasing demand for data center capacity. As silicon density of IT kit increases, power consumption of devices increases as well. In general, the power required for maintaining environmental conditions for IT kit in the data center equals the amount of power necessary to run it. Energy efficiency techniques, equipment selection, and operational processes are available, and while embraced more seriously in some areas than others, as a rule data center operators struggle to reduce energy consumption and for the most part have come to simply live with non-ideal conditions as best they can.

ASHRAE TC9.9 guidelines have been the de facto basis for temperature and humidity set points in the data center. In 2008, ASHRAE widened the recommended and allowable temperature ranges for data processing equipment. In 2011, ASHRAE widened these guidelines even further, essentially nearly recommending free cooling in most North American cities. Regardless of the changes in 2008 and 2011, data center operators have been very slow to adopt these changes, even though data indicates that modern volume servers do not need the strict temperature and humidity controls that once applied.

There is tremendous opportunity to save energy, and energy costs, if we can aggressively reduce the energy invested in maintaining strictly controlled environmental conditions for IT kit in the data center. There is great opportunity here for all data center operators, for governments, and for the planet.

The Wild Server Project aims to use COTS data center volume servers as test units with environmental conditions that are completely uncontrolled. The Wild Server Project operates servers with no energy whatsoever applied for environmental control outside what is packaged in the server itself. The only protection provided to these servers is a roof to shield rain and snow, and provisions for pest intrusion. Otherwise, these servers are operating outdoors with no alteration whatsoever of temperature, humidity, and air quality. These servers are loaded with a simulated data processing load, and basic utilization data is presented along with inlet temperature and humidity data, 24x7x365.

The Wild Server Project will track the progress of the servers we subject to this survival test. We will post photographs and blog updates with interesting events. Otherwise the data will be available for public view all the time. Questions or comments from the community are welcomed.

We hope you enjoy the Wild Server Project.

Contact: Bob Landstrom at boblandstrom@green-circle.com Please include "Wild Server Project" in the subject line.