Project Info

Project Title 
Data Center Demand Response via Server Power Management
Project Number 
Investor Owned Utilities 
Project Year(s) 
2013 - 2017

Data centers, spaces that house computers, have been considered by utilities to be a good candidate for energy efficiency improvements, due to their high energy intensity. Yet the Demand Response (DR) load impact capabilities and participation in utility programs of data centers have not been fully explored. In recent years, some efforts have sought to investigate the technical potential for DR in data centers, but these are still in the early exploration stages.

The goal of this study is to investigate and test the capability of utilizing recently-developed server management software to limit server power in response to external signals, for potential data center DR. One of the largest chip manufacturers has recently developed a technology for managing server nodes. This technology takes advantage of the built-in functionality of limiting power supply in modern Information Technology (IT) equipment hardware, such as servers, storage, and network equipment. When total power delivery is curtailed to a server, the software adjusts power to its various components, such as the Central Processing Unit (CPU), memory, and storage, to stay below the software’s power limit. For example, it would adjust the supply CPU’s voltage and operating frequency to stay within the power limit. In restricting the power consumed by the servers and other IT equipment in data centers, it is expected that the power of supporting infrastructure— including both cooling systems and losses in the power delivery and conditioning equipment—will respond correspondingly, for a cascaded effect.

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