HP has announced that its new consolidated datacentre in Bangalore is on track to show 40 percent cooling efficiency savings through Dynamic Smart Cooling (DSC) use.

The centre is a 70,000 square foot building, at Whitefield on the outskirts of Bangalore city, which will house about 2,500 racks of computer equipment. It has been built to replace 14 existing centres. HP says that there are five temperature sensors per rack, fitted to the front and back; that will be 7,500 sensors in total. These send readings over wire to a control system which uses algorithms to adjust fan speed and the amount of chilled water circulated to cool the IT equipment in the datacentre.

The argument is that, instead of trying to cool the room uniformly, you cool the hot spots more than the cool spots. This is obviously logical and sensible. The control system can also respond, HP says, to 'facility failures, anomalies and brown outs.'

HP expects that, When it is fully optimised, the datacentre will yield up to a 40 percent reduction in energy consumption over today’s typical datacentre cooling methods. That is with taking into account the Bangalore electricity generation.

Unreliable electricity utility

The situation at Bangalore is exacerbated by the local power supply being unreliable. That means, for HP, it has had to provide its own diesel-powered generation facilities. This dirty method of power generation will pump tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. HP doesn't say how much CO2 or other greenhouse gases (GHG) the new datacentre pumps into the atmosphere but does say its DSC use is expected to save 7,500 tonnes of CO2 annually, roughly equivalent to removing 2,800 cars off the road annually.

HP Labs spokesperson John Sontag is reported as saying that DSC will save HP 7,500 megawatt-hours annually.

A kilowatt-hour of electricity at the new centre costs HP about 25 cents. So a megawatt-hour will cost $250 and HP is saving $1,875,000. Sontag has also said that the ROI on DSC at Bangalore is six months, which puts the installation's cost at around $1 million.

Power costs in California are seven to fourteen cents per kilowatt, ironically much cheaper than Bangalore, so ROI there would be over a much longer period.

The Bangalore centre doesn't appear to be a very clean, environmentally speaking, datacentre. HP provides no actual figures for its greenhouse gas emissions. HP hasn't sourced any of its power needs for Bangalore from solar power, wind power or bio fuels. Reading between the lines, HP has made the best of a quite bad job in the power supply area at Bangalore.

HP also has not said anything about cold aisle-hot aisle rack design. The company says the new datacentre is composed of a mix of older legacy equipment and newer server racks and blades, which is common for IT environments deployed in production today. In other words it is not kitting it out with brand new racks in enclosed hot aisle-cold aisle design layouts.

Shane Robison, HP's CTO, said: "HP continues to set the bar for energy-efficiency initiatives that both make business sense and reduce environmental impact."

Suppose HP had built its new datacentre at The Dalles in Oregon, where hydro-electric power is plentiful and cheap, and where Google and Microsoft are building vast datacentres, what would the GHG emissions then have been compared to the Bangalore centre?

With the Bangalore centre powered by dirty diesel fuel generation then HP is polluting the environment, in terms of annual datacentre GHG, far more at Bangalore than it would if it located it in Oregon and ran it off clean hydro-electric power and emitted no GHG at all from its energy consumption.

Installing DSC in Bangalore is much, much better than nothing but it is, when all is said and done, just a bandaid.

It may persuade other datacentre users to invest in DSC, which would be a good thing though.