OK, Google Cool My Data Center
Google Gave Control of its Data Center to an Artificial Intelligence. What Does That Mean For Liquid Cooling?
Google revealed Aug. 17 it has given control of cooling several of its data centers to an AI algorithm. Motivair CEO Rich Whitmore said this move serves as a validation to the market that liquid cooling is the future for most, if not all computer systems
“As the use of AI expands it will become clear that software requires the latest in computer hardware; the computer hardware requires the latest in cooling technology,” he said. “They are all interconnected. Power and cooling drive the servers, the servers drive AI. None of that operates without all of the systems working in harmony.”
According to Tech Review, Google has been testing an algorithm that learns how best to adjust cooling systems—fans, ventilation, and other equipment— to lower power consumption. The report stated the algorithm previously made recommendations to data center managers, who decided whether to implement them, leading to energy savings of around 40 percent in those cooling systems.
DeepMind, the London-based artificial-intelligence company Google acquired in 2014 that’s behind the AI, had been working on the turnover project as far back as 2016. It was able to train the AI through various operating scenarios, creating a framework to understand a data center’s dynamics and optimize its efficiency.
One of the primary sources of energy use in the data center environment is cooling. This cooling is typically accomplished via large industrial equipment such as pumps, chillers, Cooling Distribution Units or ChilledDoors.
Data center energy consumption has become a pressing issue. A 2016 report US Department of Energy Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found US data centers consumed about 70 billion kilowatt-hours in 2014—about 1.8 percent of total national electricity use.
The same report found efficiency gains are almost canceling out increases in energy use by new data centers, although the total is expected to reach around 73 billion kilowatt-hours by 2020.
Although the algorithm runs independently, a person manages it and can intervene if it seems to be doing something too risky, the report said.
“Google publicly acknowledging the direction of their future computer systems and how they will be controlled, validates the time and investment we’ve spent being a part of the evolution of liquid cooling,” Whitmore noted.
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