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Google: Our Green Data Centers Got a Lot Greener

Google prides itself on the power efficiency of its data centers, and now it has a lot more to crow about. The company recently released figures that show its already efficient data centers just got a lot greener.

Urs Hölzle, Google's Senior Vice President, Operations recently published information about Google's data center efficiency on the Office Google Blog. The numbers are impressive. The average power and cooling overhead in any Google-designed data center with an IT load of at least 5 MW and a time-in-operation of at least 6 months was down to 16%, and 19% for the trailing 12-month period. By way of comparison, that number was 21% in the previous quarter.

If you're a fan of the PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) green metric from the Green Grid, 16% translates into 1.16, 19% to 1.19, and 21% to 1.21. (For details about PUE, see my blog, "It's Time To Know Green IT's Best Metric: PUE.") Those PUE numbers are extremely impressive. The Green Grid says that many data centers have a PUE of 3.0 and that best practices can bring the number down to 1.6. So Google is doing quite a good job greening its data centers.

How does the company do it? Hölzle said that partially it was the weather --- cooler weather is better for data center efficiency, and so cold weather has helped. But here's what else he says Google has done:
we continually review our efficiency metrics so that we notice, for example, that one of our data centers is not performing consistently with others of similar size and locale. So we'll take a closer look at optimizing that facility. Are we using fans to cool spaces that don't need to be cooled? Is the thermostat at the right set-point? Can we reduce the time the chillers need to run while keeping the machines operational? So we apply lessons we've learned from better-performing data centers to other facilities, and several such improvements took place in Q4.
For more details about how Google actually does it, check out the company's data center efficiency page.

Google plans to provide more details in the upcoming CeBIT conference in May, so stay tuned.

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