Tech industry insiders have more fuel for speculation about data center power consumption issues. The fuel comes in the form of the U.S. National Security Agency’s (News - Alert) $2 billion proposed data center that’s being built in Utah – a data center that will exceed an exaflop storage capability.
According to this DatacenterDynamics report, the data center power consumption at the site is said to be about 65 megawatts for the servers alone. With about 100,000 square feet of server area and up to 900,000 square feet for administrative offices and technical support, it’s easy to see how the data center power needs could be so high.
The project is being billed as a cyber-security project that is the most expensive and largest the NSA has ever embarked upon. The Utah Data Center is expected to be operational by September 2013.
And while data storage is the main purpose of the site, Wired magazine’s coverage of the project includes speculation that it will house an anti-terrorism program and will essentially be a spy center. The center will use “cryptanalyze complex encryption systems,” according to one report.
Backup data center power necessitates fuel tanks that deliver 1.7 million gallons a day to a generator. A substation has been built nearby solely for the use of the data center power needs. Why so much fuel? It’s been reported that the code breaking system the center will use consumes 200 mw of power.
The data center is proposed to house a supercomputer that is around 100 times faster than the fastest computer available today. It is expected that the cost of supplying data center power will be in excess of $40 million per year.
As the rest of the world has started to take “green” initiatives seriously, the data centers of tomorrow are going to require power that might not come with a light carbon footprint. Apple (News - Alert) is constructing two power centers with a focus on sustainability by employing solar power and other sustainable means, but as the size of the data center increases, the debate gets louder.
The NSA’s massive data center power needs is only fanning the flames. The Department of Energy is already scratching its head as it tries to think of ways to address the growing demand of data center power needs. The supercomputers that are being dreamed up for these massive centers are part of the root of the problem – they require super cooling to operate efficiently, which requires lots of power and lots of money.
There may be no end to the demand for data center power as the need for data consumption, storage and management continues to grow. We may instead need to look for solutions that enable us to do more with that data, while also relying less on the data center.
Edited by Carrie Schmelkin