Jul 29, 2020

Hive partners with world's most efficient data centre, BTDC

IT
automation
cooling
Blockchain
Harry Menear
3 min
Courtesy of Boden Type DC One
The Swedish data centre project, which has achieved PUE scores of below 1.01, will help Hive efficiently expand its HPC facilities...

Hive Blockchain Technologies, a Vancouver-based digital ledger infrastructure company, has announced it is partnering with the development team behind the Boden Type Data Centre (BTDC) research project, in order to achieve record levels of cooling efficiency and sustainability in its crypto mines. 

Based in Boden, Sweden, the BTDC project is a European Union-funded initiative with the key objective of demonstrating a range of highly innovative key engineering principles to construct the most cost and energy-efficient data centers with minimal environmental impact. 

The BTCD’s flagship facility came online in March last year, and uses several techniques and technologies that conspire to deliver power efficiency statistics that are, frankly, incredible. The BTDC pilot project utilises a range of techniques, processes and equipment developed by cooling provider EcoCooling.

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The BTDC prototype has achieved a significantly better Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) than typical data centers. PUE is the ratio between the total power used in a data center and the actual useful power used by the data center's IT equipment.

Essentially, a PUE rating of 1.0 is equivalent to a 100% efficient facility, and your average modern data centre has a PUE between 1.6 and 2.2, which means that for every 1,000 watts (W) of power output delivered by the data center's IT equipment, another 600W to 1,200W are used for cooling, power conversion losses, etc.

BTDC’s facility has achieved a PUE of less than 1.01, making it a contender for the most efficient data centre in the world. The organisation keeps a live tracker running that displays its numbers in detail. It’s well worth a look.

The facility takes a holistic approach to cooling, powered by artificial intelligence (AI). According to the BTDC project site, “For air cooled data centers, energy can be wasted by providing too much air to the IT space from the cooling equipment. Traditionally, air cooled systems are controlled by providing a set temperature to the cold aisles, which invariably leads to slow response of the cooling systems to the thermal swings in the data center created by large changes in the IT workload. In the Boden Type DC One the cooling intelligently adopts to and works together with an algorithm that controls IT workloads, server fan speed and temperature in order to maximize efficiency.”

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Going forward, EcoCooling will work with HIVE to assist in HIVE's plan to expand its High Performance Computing (HPC) facilities with the lowest cost of operation, rapid deployment and minimum environmental impact. HIVE currently operates green energy-powered digital currency mining facilities in Canada, Sweden, and Iceland which produce newly minted digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum continuously. Its Graphic Processing Unit (GPU)-based facilities in Sweden and Iceland provide transaction validation services for the Ethereum blockchain, a global, open-source platform for decentralized applications, for which it receives newly minted Ether (ETH), the Ethereum network's native cryptocurrency and a form of digital money.

"Our mission at HIVE is to provide High Performance Computing capacity with environmental responsibility," said Tobias Ebel, Board Director, HIVE. "Our past achievements have been very good but the BTDC presents an opportunity to set new standards for this sector. We are targeting a PUE of <1.01 in the BTDC with a plan to apply this in both new projects and retrospectively incorporate these techniques and processes into our existing facilities."

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Jun 6, 2021

Unlocking the next chapter of the digital revolution

Dell
servers
IT
Technology
Tim Loake
5 min
Tim Loake, Vice President, Infrastructure Solutions Group, UK at Dell Technologies highlights the importance of often-overlooked digital infrastructure

As the world retreated to a hybrid world in 2020, our reliance on technology took the spotlight. But it was the jazzy new social and video calling platforms that took the encore. Behind the scenes, our servers worked overtime, keeping us connected and maintaining the drumbeat of always-on newly digital services.  Let’s take a moment to pay our respect to the unsung technology heroes of the pandemic – the often-forgotten IT infrastructure keeping us connected come what may. After all, as we look ahead to more resilient futures, they will be playing a central role.

Servers could be likened to our plumbing – vital to well-functioning homes but rarely top of mind so long as it is functioning. Never seen, rarely heard – our servers do all the graft with little praise. But it is essential to reflect on the incremental advances in GPU and CPU power, which have paved the way for new workloads that previously were not possible. Chatbots and native language processing that provide essential customer touchpoints for businesses across the retail and banking sectors rely on powerful servers. They also keep businesses competitive and customers happy in an always-on world. 

Tim Loake, Vice President, Infrastructure Solutions Group, UK at Dell Technologies
Tim Loake, Vice President, Infrastructure Solutions Group, UK at Dell Technologies

Serving workplace transformation

But, as businesses grappled with pandemic disruptions, the focus was largely on adopting connected devices – and awe at the rapid increase in the datasphere.  As they reined in their budgets and attempted to do more with less, one aspect was perhaps overlooked—those hard working servers.

When it came to building resilience into a newly remote workforce, the initial concern was focused on the device endpoints – keeping employees productive.  Many companies did not initially consider whether they had the server infrastructure to enable the entire workforce to log in remotely at the same time. As a result, many experienced a plethora of teething problems: virtual office crashes, long waits to get on servers, and sluggish internet connectivity and application performance, often rendering the shiny new PC frustrating and useless.

Most businesses only had a few outward-facing servers that could authenticate remote workers – a vital gateway as the vector for cyber hacks and attacks increased exponentially. That’s not to mention the fact that many business applications simply weren’t designed to work with the latency required for people working from home. What businesses discovered at that moment was that their plumbing was out of date.  

Business and IT leaders quickly realised that to stay ahead of the curve in the hybrid working world, a renewed focus on building agile, adaptable, and flexible IT infrastructures was critical. More importantly, it accelerated the inevitable digital transformation that would keep them competitive in a data-driven economy. It is now abundantly clear to businesses that they need IT infrastructure to meet the demands of diverse workloads – derive intelligent insights from data, deploy applications effectively, and enhance data management and security.  

Ripe for a digital revolution

Unsurprisingly, IDC noted that there was an increase in purchases of server infrastructure to support changing workloads. However, it also forecasts this uptick will be sustainable and last beyond the pandemic. As the economy begins to reopen, business leaders are looking ahead. IT will continue to play a crucial role in 2021 and beyond – and we have already set the foundations for the digital revolution with next-generation servers. 

As we enter the zettabyte era, new innovative technologies are coming on stream, with 5G turbocharging IoT and putting edge computing to work.  Exciting new services improved day-to-day efficiencies, and the transformation of our digital society will be underpinned by resilient IT infrastructures.  By embracing the technological innovations of our next-generation servers, businesses keep pace with the coming data deluge.

The next generation of server architecture promises more power with less heat, thanks to improved, directed airflow, and direct liquid cooling, resulting in reduced operational costs and environmental impact. As we rebuild post-pandemic, manufacturers and customers alike strive to achieve ever more challenging sustainability goals. With this in mind, a focus on environmentally responsible design is imperative for the servers of tomorrow -  uniquely designed chassis for adaptive cooling and more efficient power consumption will be critical, improving energy efficiency generation over generation.

The most notable evolution is the configuration of these next-gen servers around more specific organisational needs. Unlike clunky and often unstable legacy infrastructure, the infrastructure of tomorrow will be sturdier and more modular. The next iteration is streamlined, and in this modular form, can be more easily tailored to business needs. This equates to essential cost savings as businesses only pay for what they use.  

Resolving the problem of the future, today

Tomorrow's IT challenges will focus on response times and latency as Edge and 5G technologies go mainstream. As businesses develop new and innovative services that utilise supercharged connectivity and real-time analytics, staying on top of these challenges will give them a competitive edge. For example, in the world of retail, automation will power new virtual security guards and even the slightest delay in the data relay could result in financial loss. 

Similarly, in the smart cities of tomorrow, the network must be responsive. With city-centre traffic lights controlled by an AI-powered camera that monitors pedestrians, delays in data transfers could cost the life of an elderly pedestrian who has fallen in the road. The stakes are far higher in a 5G-enabled world. As our reliance on technology deepens, the margins for error narrow, placing greater emphasis on the efficiency of those critical underpinning technologies.

Fully enabling the hybrid work model today is just a stepping-stone towards more fluid, tech-enabled lives. A work Zoom call from an automated vehicle on-route to an intelligent transport hub is a highly probable vision of our future. But it requires incredible amounts of compute and seamless data transfers to make it possible. These glossy snapshots need super servers to come to life, making that IT plumbing glisten with next-gen innovation essential. Without exemplary server architecture, we risk future tech advances and the human progression that it enables. 

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