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Tropical revolution for data centres

Tropical revolution for data centres

Singapore announces a proof-of-concept for the world’s first Tropical Data Centre (TDC).

Can data centres function optimally in temperatures of up to 38 deg C and ambient humidity exceeding 90 per cent? 

How will servers react under peak surges or in diverse conditions with no temperature or humidity controls?

These are some of the answers that Singapore is aiming to arrive at, through a proof of concept (POC) for the world’s first Tropical Data Centre (TDC). 


Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim opening the annual Ministerial Forum on ICT on 30 May.

Speaking at the opening of the Ministerial Forum on ICT on 30 May, Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said, “Over the years, we have partnered industry and academia visionaries to test bed innovative ideas in real-life-contexts. In the next phase of our Green Data Centre Programme (GDCP), we will work with partners to test whether data centres can be operated in temperature and humidity levels that are double the current norm.” 

If successful, the trial will prove that data centres need not be run in tightly-controlled cooled environments. 

“Not only will it expand the geographical limitation of siting data centres, it would also cut back on the existing energy requirements for the running of such centres,” he said.

Data centres are currently cooled to between 20-25 deg C and kept within 50-60 per cent relative ambient humidity for safety reasons. 

The TDC, which seeks to drive innovation and explore new green data centre technologies as part of Singapore’s Smart Nation drive, could potentially reduce data centre energy consumption by up to 40 per cent and reduce carbon emissions.

Data is hot

In 2012, data centres accounted for 7 per cent of Singapore’s total energy demand and this is projected to reach 12 per cent by 2030 due to the continued growth of data centres based here. 

For the POC, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), in partnership with industry and experts, will set up the trial data centre and operate it in a tropical environment to test its feasibility. 

The partners, which include Dell, ERS, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei, Intel, Keppel Data Centres, The Green Grid and Nanyang Technological University, are providing hardware, software and expertise for analysis. 

The POC will be set up in the third quarter of 2016 within a controlled test environment in a Keppel Data Centres facility. 

A typical data centre: The Tropical Data Centre trial builds on IDA’s Green Data Innovation Hub initiative.

The data centre will trial test conditions to analyse the feasibility of operating in higher ambient temperatures and higher humidity levels, and assess the impact on the data centre IT equipment’s reliability and performance. 

Trial servers running with simulated data will test how data servers react under various live situations such as sudden peak surges, low usage, and during the transfer of large amounts of data between networks and storage devices. 

The trial builds on IDA’s Green Data Innovation Hub initiative that is part of the GDCP launched in late 2014 to boost overall data centre energy efficiency through innovation, pilot emerging technologies and formulate new guidelines for sustainable computing.

According to a 2013 Broadgroup report, Singapore is a premier data centre hub in Southeast Asia, accounting for 60 per cent of the region’s data centre capacity. 

“With Singapore’s continued growth as a premium hub for data centres, we want to develop new technologies and standards that allow us to operate advanced data centres in the most energy efficient way in a tropical climate,” said Mr Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, IDA. 

“To create new value in our Smart Nation journey, we need to embrace an attitude of experimentation, to be willing to develop new ideas together and test the feasibility of progressive and positive technological advancements that have a good possibility to enhance our industry’s competitiveness.”


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