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The COOL IT project, to cut the energy consumption of servers and their environments

Posted on 31 May 2011 by Pierre Picard

Bull, six SMEs (Atrium Data, Alternative Vision Of Business, Eurodecision, Sinovia, Splitted-Desktop Systems and Williamson Electronique) and two research centers (CEA DAM and INRIA) have launched COOL IT, a cooperative project:

The vast majority of the electricity consumed by large data centers is used in cooling servers and ensuring the continuity of their power supply: a phenomenon that some have called “Moore’s Law for data centers”. Effectively, demand for cooling has grown in parallel with that of processor power.

So currently the total energy consumption of a data center can be more than double that required by the CPUs it hosts and cools. This consumption pattern by infrastructures is not compatible either with environmental good practice, or with new ‘Green IT’ standards. This ratio has to be improved not least because in many countries electricity supply is becoming a problematic issue: with transport networks overloaded or production capacity failing to keep pace with demand. In addition, any reduction in electricity consumption improves the total cost of ownership of IT solutions, and will have a growing impact as energy prices continue to rise.

The aim of the COOL IT project is to optimize the total amount of energy needed to run an IT infrastructure. It involves three main areas of research, which because of their complementary nature and the synergies between them, will contribute to this optimization:

  • New cooling methods
  • New ways of bonding, integrating and optimizing the electrical power supply chain
  • The gathering and combining of energy information, to support decision-making at the data center level.

By carrying out this R&D work focused on these three areas, it should be possible to save up to 20% of the energy currently being consumed.

The project comes under the banner of the Systematic competitiveness cluster (, which aims to make the Ile-de-France region a globally recognized area when it comes to the design, development and understanding of complex systems.

Positioning the project at the heart of the Systematic ‘Systems Design and Development Tools’ special interest group opens up new opportunities for technological excellence in the industrial world and enables many players of all sizes to come together in order to focus on optimizing data center energy consumption. The scientific community will benefit from a structural project offering it on-going interaction with technology suppliers, to improve and direct the development of energy consumption management tools.

The COOL IT project was chosen as part of the tenth round of Unique Inter-ministerial Funding by the French government, and is supported by the Ministry for the Economy, Industry and Employment, the Regional Councils of Essonne, Ile-de-France and Loire, and Paris City Authorities. It began on 1st January 2011.

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