What better place to publicly thank colleagues who agreed to participate in a panel discussion yesterday at the 2010 Emerging Technology Summit in Sacramento.
The annual conference is organized by the Emerging Technology Coordinating Council, a California group funded by the investor-owned utilities, SMUD, and the California Energy Commission. The ETCC's mission is to bring new technologies to the market so that the state can meet aggressive energy efficiency targets.
I was asked to moderate a panel on opportunities in the data center space, so asked three colleagues to help.
First up was Henry Wong, Sr. Staff Technologist at Intel's Eco-Technology Office, to discuss the opportunities from a pure IT equipment standpoint. (Henry also participated in a panel on Monday on consumer electronics.)
The standout information in Henry's deck included confirmation of the continued explosive growth rate of IT use both in the US and globally, and in particular the intense growth rate in data storage. Interestingly, Henry indicated that Intel believes that overall we are meeting this growth rate at almost a dead flat energy use footprint, in large part due to the combination of higher performance and improved energy efficiency of processors.
Next up was Patrick Yantz, Sr. Director at SGI, describing the industry move to modular data center infrastructure, and the debut of what I have termed second generation units that feature no mechanical cooling. If you haven't seen this concept in action, I highly recommend watching this video from SGI.
(By the way, depending on market penetration, I really believe that these units have the potential to fundamentally change the data center infrastructure paradigm not only for utility scale deployments, but down into the enterprise market segment. Imagine having half or more of existing infrastructure replaced with units that require no cooling, operating instead on outside air supplemented with direct evaporative units,)
Last, but certainly not least, was Dennis Symanski from EPRI, who described the surprising amount of work happening around the world to fundamentally reassess power distribution in data centers, moving to direct current systems to improve energy efficiency. Dennis indicated that many of the companies demonstrating these systems are from the telecomm world, which is not surprising given their long history of operating DC power systems.
Pleased also that Dennis brought along Curtis Watkins from Duke Energy's Global Technology Development Group to describe a DC distribution demonstration project that Duke is running in their own data center.
My sincerest thanks to these gentlemen for agreeing to share their thoughts on opportunities for energy efficiency in the data center market - I was very pleased to hear from many of the attendees that they thought our session was a highlight of the conference.