Yahoo today is scheduled to officially open a very energy-efficient data center in upstate New York, a building that shows how design often trumps high-technology widgets.
The facility in Lockport, N.Y., near Buffalo, will get almost all of its cooling from outdoor air, which is a significant energy saver. The Yahoo data center, which can hold 50,000 servers, will have a power usage effectiveness rating of 1.08, far less than the industry average of 1.92.
The cool climate of upstate New York helps reduce the need for the chillers usually used in large data centers. The building itself will use what the company calls the Yahoo Chicken Coop design, a long, narrow building that makes it easier to circulate in outdoor air. The building is positioned to take advantage of the prevailing winds, too.
The data center, which was partially funded with a $9.9 million Department of Energy Green IT grant, will use 40 percent less electricity than typical data centers and only one percent of its energy bill on cooling. Scrapping chillers saves water as well, conserving enough drinking water per year for 200,000 people, according to Yahoo.
Although it may sound like an obvious way to get free cooling, using outdoor air to cool data centers is not a common practice in data centers. Yahoo is seeking a patent for its Chicken Coop design which it could use for other data centers.