The Stack Archive News Article

Alibaba to share data centre tech with Open Compute Project

Wed 14 Jun 2017

Alibaba Group

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, has agreed to share advances in data center technology with the Open Compute Project.

In an announcement, the company said that it would provide the project with details of recent advances in data center technology. These developments will be focused on green solutions aimed at reducing energy consumption and helping data centers to become more environmentally friendly.

Recently, Alibaba announced that it had made advances in technology related to immersion cooling systems for the data center. Immersion cooling involves submerging a server in an insulating liquid coolant. The liquid absorbs heat as it turns to gas, which is then liquefied and recycled back into the server cabinet for reuse. Alibaba estimates that using immersion cooling rather than traditional HVAC systems may reduce energy consumption and operating costs by up to 20%.

Additionally, as liquid immersion cooling takes place in the server cabinet, data centers can save space devoted to air conditioning and refrigeration equipment traditionally required to keep servers at a low temperature. With improvements in computing density, the power usage efficiency (PUE) of an immersion cooling unit approaches the theoretical limit of 1, according to the company, which has tested an immersion cooling unit that can support a 200kW cluster with zero noise, zero pollution, and green energy.

Alibaba Group joined the Open Compute Project (OCP) last week as a Platinum member. At that time, Shanyuan Gao, Chief Architect of Alibaba Infrastructure Services, said, “We are delighted to become a platinum member of the OCP community, giving us a tremendous opportunity to share our leading data center technology with the world. We look forward to collaborating with OCP and its members around the world to drive the development and adoption of further technological breakthroughs intended to deliver an even greater impact for the industry, and we already have plans to contribute our innovations to OCP.”

The OCP was founded in 2011 to increase innovation in the data center by leveraging the benefits of open source sharing of technological innovations. Today, the project has over 200 member companies including Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and IBM.

As part of its efforts toward making data centers more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, Alibaba launched a lake water-cooled data center at Qiandao Lake in China. The facility was designed to have an annual PUE of 1.3, and water usage effectiveness of less than 0.2.


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