With the amount of energy now required to power the world’s data centers, one of the greatest challenges in today’s data centers is minimizing costs associated with power consumption and cooling, which is also the requirement of building the green data center. Higher power consumption means increased energy costs and greater need for heat dissipation. This requires more cooling, which adds even more cost. Under these circumstances, high-speed optical fiber offers a big advantage over copper to reduce the network operational and cooling energy.
What Is Green Data Center?
The word “green” invokes natural images of deep forests, sprawling oak trees and financial images of dollar bills. The topic of green has been gaining momentum across international, commercial and industrial segments as global warming and greenhouse gas effects hit headlines. In terms of different fields, the word “green” has different definitions. Specific to the data center segment of the telecommunications industry, green data center is a repository for the storage, management, and dissemination of data in which the mechanical, lighting, electrical and computer systems are designed for maximum energy efficiency and minimum environmental impact.
How to Build Green Data Center?
Green data center address two issues which plague the average data center. One is the power required to run the actual equipment, the other is the power required to cool the equipment. Reduced the power required will effectively lessen not only the energy consumption but also the impact on environment. Green solutions include:
- More efficient hardware components and software systems
- Innovative cooling systems
- Using natural ways to cool equipment
- Building near advantageous natural resources or environments
- Effective server and rack management for better air-flow
How Does Optical Fiber Benefit the Green Data Center Building?
Compared to copper cable, optical fiber may offer many advantages in contribution to building green data center. Usually, optical fiber connectivity can enhance green data center installations by utilizing high-port-density electronics with very low power and cooling requirements. Additionally, an optical network provides premier pathway and space performance in racks, cabinets and trays to support high cooling efficiency when compared to copper connectivity. All these advantages can be summarized as the following three points.
Lower Operational Power Consumption
Optical transceiver requires less power to operate compared to copper transceiver. Copper requires significant analog and digital signal processing for transmission that consumes significantly higher energy when compared to optical media. A 10G BASE-T transceiver in a copper system uses about 6 watts of power. A comparable 10G BASE-SR optical transceiver uses less than 1 watt to transmit the same signal. The result is that each optical connection saves about 5 watts of power. Data centers vary in size, but if we assume 10,000 connections at 5 watts each, that’s 50 kW less power—a significant savings opportunity thanks to less power-hungry optical technology.
Less Cooling Power Consumption
Optical system requires far fewer switches and line cards for equivalent bandwidth when compared to a copper card. Fewer switches and line cards translate into less energy consumption for electronics and cooling. One optical 48-port line card equals three copper 16-port line cards (as shown in the following picture). A typical eight-line card chassis switch would have 384 optical ports compared to 128 copper ports. This translates into a 3:1 port advantage for optical. It would take three copper chassis switches to have equivalent bandwidth to one optical chassis switch. The more copper chassis switches results in more network and cooling power consumption.
More Effective Management for Better Air-flow
Usually, a 0.7-inch diameter optical cable would contain 216 fibers to support 108 10G optical circuits, while 108 copper cables would have a 5.0-inch bundle diameter. The larger CAT 6A outer diameter impacts conduit size and fill ratio as well as cable management due to the increased bend radius. Copper cable congestion in pathways increases the potential for damage to electronics due to air cooling damming effects and interferes with the ability of ventilation systems to remove dust and dirt. Optical cable offers better system density and cable management and minimizes airflow obstructions in the rack and cabinet for better cooling efficiency. See the picture below: the left is a copper cabling system and the right is an optical cabling system.
Data center electrical energy consumption is projected to significantly increase in the next five years. Solutions to mitigate energy requirements, to reduce power consumption and to support environmental initiatives are being widely adopted. Optical connectivity supports the growing focus on a green data center philosophy. Optical cable fibers provide bandwidth capabilities that support legacy and future-data-rate applications. Optical fiber connectivity provides the reduction in power consumption (electronic and cooling) and optimized pathway space utilization necessary to support the movement to greener data centers.
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