Air Economizer

By Ericka Chickowski  |  Posted 2008-10-20 Print this article Print

With hundreds of data centers spread around the globe, Intel struggles to keep costs under control. Several years ago, Intel’s IT operations staff decided to face these issues and meet them head-on with an efficiency initiative that will help save money.

Air Economizer

Of course, as you increase utilization and develop higher-density data centers, the real problem is keeping up with power and cooling needs. Intel is currently addressing this with an air economizer proof of concept project that it hopes may help rein in costs. Intel found that using an air economizer that expels hot air outdoors and draws outside air in (rather than using localized air conditioners) could reduce the company’s power consumption by 74 percent over a 10-month period. This could mean a potential saving of $2.8 million annually for a 10-megawatt data center.

This may sound like sacrilege to the average data center manager, who might be concerned about the lack of control over humidity and air quality in such a setup. Intel did report that it saw layers of dust and large humidity fluctuations during the experiment. But the company challenged industry beliefs, stating that there was no increase in server failure rate as a result. How Intel will move forward with this is still up in the air, but this air-economizer set-up is certainly on the table.

Already Intel has begun to see significant savings in its program, Davis says. In 2007, the company was able to shut down 21 data centers; this year, it will close 20 to 24. By 2014, it will have reduced the total data center footprint from 450,000 square feet to 300,000 square feet, and is projected to cut from $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion through his team’s efforts.

Though company leaders may not have foreseen today’s state of the economy several years ago, their forward-thinking strategy has put Intel in a good position. Last week, Intel reported a better-than-expected gross profit margin for its third quarter, at 58.4 percent—a number which company officials told The Wall Street Journal was in large part sustained by companywide efforts to reduce costs.

Paul Otellini, Intel’s CEO, told the Journal that Intel has cut $3 billion in annual spending since 2006. “These actions put us in an excellent operating position for changing economic conditions,” he said.


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