Windy Data On The Fly

on August 02, 2011 at 10:45 AM

The future of data may be written in the wind.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Advanced Mico Devices (AMD) are working with Clarkson University to develop software that routes data, stored on cloud computing systems, to data centers powered by the wind. The software will automatically and instantaneously reroute data to the windiest locations where the greatest amount of wind power is being produced.

Cloud computing is a relatively new data storage process that puts information into a virtual “cloud” of servers that can be accessed from multiple locations. Engineers at NYSERDA, AMD and Clarkson realized that because data could easily be moved, it could be transported to a location where energy is cheapest and cleanest. Each of the group’s Performance Optimized Data Center (POD) systems will be built near already existing wind turbines.

NYSERDA communications specialist Alan Wechsler told Breaking Energy that the system will allow wind power to be used more efficiently as excess electricity that is produced at times of low demand, and therefore not consumed by traditional customers from the grid delivery system, will instead be fed directly into the data center where the software will reroute additional data.

“It would be instantaneous and invisible to the customers that would be using the data processing,” NYSERDA communications specialist Alan Wechsler told Breaking Energy.

Although the current focus of the companies is on wind power, they have not dismissed the possibility of using solar power as well.

NYSERDA is investing $300,000 in the project. Corporate partnerships include HP, GE Global Research Center, Ioxus, AWS TruePower, Vento Tek, Timbre, Intertek, WindE Systems, and Ballard Power Systems.

According to a study by researcher and Stanford University consulting professor Jonathon Kooney released this week, deployment of efficient data centers are helping to slow down a national trend of increasing electricity consumption. Koomey estimates that data centers consumed between 1.1-1.5% of electricity in 2010. In the US he says data centers consumed between 1.7-2.2% of electricity.

“If successful and deployed on a larger scale, this project could bring significant energy savings to an industry that can consume 1 MW of electricity at times of peak operation,” NYSERDA said in a statement. An average data center can consume roughly a megawatt of power each hour during normal operations, the group said.

With its use of wind power rather than fossil fuel for power generation, the project could also make a serious dent in the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Photo Caption: A 45nm process 300mm silicon wafer is displayed at a press conference as Intel Japan announces the launch of the new 45nm process microprocessors, Xeon processor for servers and Core2 Extreme processors for desktop PC, in Tokyo 13 November 2007. The new processors have improved power efficiency and performance compared with current 65nm processors.