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University of York chooses renewable data centre for ‘Viking’ computer cluster

Written by Fri 31 May 2024

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When relocating a high-performance computer cluster, representatives of the University of York selected a sustainable data centre in Sweden.

The Ecodatacenter in Falun, Sweden, is the home of University of York’s high-performance computer facility, “Viking 2.” Not only is it double the size of the previous data centre, it also supports the University’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

The new data centre is wholly powered by renewable energy – 75% hydropower and 25% wind power. Adding to the facility’s green integrity is the fact that it is the first data centre constructed out of wood, and that the heat created by servers is used to create dry wood pellets which are, themselves, a renewable energy source.

Richard Fuller, Assistant Director of IT for the University of York, emphasised the fact that a shared commitment to sustainability was, in part, what drew the two partners together. “Given the University’s strong commitment to net-zero, and the fact we will be doing climate research at this facility, it was extremely pleasing to find a partner so focused on environmental sustainability, with the capability and maturity to deliver.”

“So much time is spent talking about sustainability,” he continued, “and it’s exciting to be taking positive steps and to be leading on sustainable research computing facilities.”

In the announcement of the new HPC location, the university stated that it had success in securing research grants utilising the capabilities of the previous data centre. It is hoped that the new location – with increased GPUs and capacity – will be even more successful as it enables “computational research to be undertaken faster and allowing academics to run bigger simulations and analysis tasks.”

The University of York was recently recognised for its commitment to environmental sustainability, when it received the Sustainable Digital Project or Initiative Award from the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association (UCISA).

The award was for the school’s range of sustainability initiatives, rather than focusing on a single factor – but its choice of the EcoDatacentre to house its HPC lab was a part of the consideration.

Tyrrell Basson, Director of IT Services for the University of York, praised all of the IT services teams at the school for their dedication to and focus on sustainability. “We know IT Services can play a significant role in the University’s journey to net zero and energy saving, so it was particularly rewarding to have the judging panel recognise the breadth and innovation of our sustainability work so far.”

Written by Fri 31 May 2024


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