Towards Energy Sustainability in Data Centers: Some Thoughts on Energy, Entropy, and Water 🗓 🗺

— powering the internet and cloud, cooling, energy use, data center design, non-traditional approaches …

Speaker: Dr. Alfonso Ortega, Dean of the School of Engineering, University of Santa Clara
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Meeting Date: Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Time: 11:30 AM Registration (and sandwiches/drinks); 12:00 PM Presentation
Presentation-only: 12:00 noon (come at 11:45)
Cost: $5 IEEE members. students, unemployed, $10 non-members

Location: Texas Instruments Building E Conference Center, 2900 Semiconductor Dr. (off Kifer Rd), Santa Clara
Reservations: 1805eps.eventbrite.com

Summary: The fabric that connects billions of people (through mobile and wearable devices), things (Internet of Things) and services (Internet of Services) is composed of (1) the digital engines or factories that store and process data (Data Centers, the “cloud”) and (2) the wired and wireless network that transmits that data (the Internet). It is easy to overlook the silent third partner in this alliance of technologies which is (3) the energy infrastructure required to power both the digital engines and the network.
In this talk I will discuss the thermodynamics of data centers starting with the environmentally horrifying observation that almost all of the electrical power consumed by the “electronic engines” or servers in data centers is dissipated as heat. In efforts to save energy in the cooling of data centers, the hyperscale industry has adopted the use of outside air for cooling, coupled with evaporative air conditioning using water. In this context, swapping the consumption of one resource (electrical power required for mechanical cooling) with another (water for evaporative cooling) leads to confusion because they cannot necessarily be compared using energy units or metrics. Without offering solutions, in this talk I will focus on possible ways to think about the issue using well known but non-traditional approaches that involve second law and sustainable engineering thinking.
The evolving notion that we are in the midst of a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” was described by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Director of the World Economic Forum, in the following way: “The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.” We need to understand how to make this happen.


Bio: Dr. Alfonso Ortega received his B.S. from The University of Texas-El Paso, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University, all in Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Ortega was on the faculty of the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at The University of Arizona in Tucson for 18 years, where he directed the Experimental and Computational Heat Transfer Laboratory. From 2004 to 2006, Dr. Ortega was the Program Director for Thermal Transport and Thermal Processing in the Chemical and Transport Systems Division of The National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia, where he managed the NSF’s primary program funding heat transfer and thermal technology research in U.S. universities. Dr. Ortega is an internationally recognized researcher in the areas of thermal management of data centers and electronic systems, convective and conjugate heat transfer in complex flows, experimental measurements in the thermal sciences, and thermal management in energy systems.
He is the author of over 300 journal and symposia papers, book chapters, and monographs. Dr. Ortega is a Fellow of the ASME. He is the recipient of the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, the ASME Electronic Packaging Division Thermal Management Award, the SEMITHERM Significant Contributor Award, and the Harvey Rosten Award for Excellence. He has been a an Associate Editor of the ASME Journal of Heat Transfer, Associate Editor of the ASME Journal of Electronic Packaging and Guest Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology. He has chaired the ASME K16 Committee on Heat Transfer in Electronic Equipment, the ASME Electronic and Photonic Packaging Division, the IEEE ITHERM Symposium, the IEEE SEMITHERM Symposium, and the ASME InterPACK Conference.

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