IDA launches Green Data Centre Innovation Programme


12 May 2015

IDA has announced the launch of the Green Data Centre Innovation Programme (GDCIP), the first of its kind in Singapore. The Programme, which comes after the launch of the Green Data Centre Roadmap in late 2014, aims to boost the competitiveness of the data centre industry by raising their overall energy efficiency.

Data centres are a significant and growing energy challenge. Based on IDA's estimates of 2012 statistics in a survey of data centres, the 10 largest data centre operators in Singapore account for energy consumption equivalent to 130,000 typical 4-room HDB households. An energy efficiency improvement of 20 per cent in the existing stock of commercial data centres in Singapore is estimated to be capable of yielding combined annual savings in excess of S$34 million, the report said.

As Singapore journeys to a Smart Nation, it will require more uses of and reliance on data centres for areas such as cloud services, data analytics and the Internet of Things. According to IDA, there is room for significant improvement of energy efficiency of data centres in Singapore.

The GDCIP, IDA said, intends to spur innovation by catalysing development and adoption of innovative green data centre related products, solutions and services, direct local R&D efforts in green data centre technologies by providing research funding for key areas of research, demonstrate emerging technologies and innovations which could be adopted by data centres in the future, and develop policies and guidelines related to resource efficiency by data centres in Singapore to achieve a sustainable computing infrastructure.

The Innovation Programme will be accomplished by taking a comprehensive view of both short and long-term emerging technologies from hardware, to design and software perspectives. Its recommendations, according to IDA, are intended to guide the research community, technology companies and the data centre industry in charting their technology directions.

Some of the possible solutions, IDA said, could include raising the ambient level of tolerable heat within data centres, automatic smart allocation of computing resources within data centres and more intelligent systems-level solutions spanning IT and facilities.

As part of the programme, IDA has signed Memorandums of Intent (MOI) with Dell, Hewlett Packard, Huawei and IBM to begin working collaboratively on the GDCIP to co-create and prototype potential solutions.

These MOIs, IDA said, signal the strong commitment by the companies to enhance development into technologies and solutions in the greening of data centres. It will also enable IDA to tap on their expertise and inputs.

The GDCIP provides a neutral platform for all stakeholders to contribute to developing innovations that will reduce energy consumption and lower the impact on the planet we share, said Chang Tsann, member of the Steering Committee for The Green Grid Singapore and Practice Director, Data Centre Consulting Services, Asia Pacific and Japan, Dell. “This will strengthen Singapore’s position as a significant global data centre hub and a future Smart Nation. Collaboration between vendors and the wider world will address issues including energy efficiency,” he said.

As the demand for data centres and cloud computing continue to grow exponentially, Zhou Bin, Chief Executive Officer, Huawei International, said, “Huawei is committed to developing green and sustainable long term ICT solutions that will reduce environmental impact while improving energy and resource efficiency.”

The Innovation Programme also includes an open Call for Collaboration (CFC) to garner industry proposals. These would develop and pilot promising innovative solutions to provide proof-of-concepts in Singapore’s environment, the results of which could lead to immediately implementable solutions for data centres, IDA said. This CFC will close by 26 June 2015.

IDA will also release an open call for Research Grant Proposals and a Request for Proposal to build Singapore’s first Green Data Centre Innovation Hub by Q3 2015. The former will look into longer-term research and development of green technologies for data centres from research organisations, while the latter is envisioned as a data centre platform to house and demonstrate proof-of-concept solutions.

The Research Grant Call will invite research proposals from research organisations to conduct research and development projects around currently theoretical or nascent solutions for green data centre technologies. The research, IDA said, could leverage on solutions from the earlier CFC to springboard further, or explore brand new avenues of hardware, design or software solutions.

The state-of-the-art Green Data Centre Innovation Hub, according to IDA, will take a coordinated and multi-disciplinary approach through open collaborations amongst industry, and is intended to be re-configurable and an open platform. The Hub will allow for experiments and showcasing of proof-of-concepts for the latest energy efficient features and innovative data centre technologies in Singapore’s context, said IDA.

Singapore’s journey to Smart Nation will involve many aspects of the value chain of which data centres are an integral portion, said IDA Assistant Chief Executive (Engineering & Technology Group) Toh Chai Keong. “By working with key companies to explore new research and proven solutions, Singapore will continue to be at the forefront of enabling progressive and positive technological advancements.”