Singapore trials world’s first Tropical Data Centre


2 June 2016

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), in partnership with industry and experts, will set up the world’s first Tropical Data Centre (TDC) and operate it in a tropical environment to test its feasibility.

According to IDA, the proof-of-concept would aim to prove, among others, whether data centres can function optimally at temperatures of up to 38 degrees Celsius and ambient humidity up to or exceeding 90 per cent.

IDA’s partners Dell, ERS, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei, Intel, Keppel Data Centres, The Green Grid, and Nanyang Technological University are providing hardware, software and expertise for analysis. The proof-of-concept TDC will be set up in the third quarter of 2016 within a controlled test environment in a Keppel Data Centres facility.

IDA said the trial would test how data servers react under various “live” situations, such as peak surges or transferring of data, and in diverse conditions, such as with no temperature or humidity controls. The trial servers will run with simulated data.

According to IDA, if successful, the TDC could significantly reduce global energy consumption by data centres by allowing for higher operating temperatures and humidity levels. Data centres are currently cooled to between 20 to 25 degrees Celsius and kept to within 50 to 60 per cent relative ambient humidity for safety. The TDCs could reduce energy costs by up to 40 per cent, and reduce carbon emissions, IDA said.

Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, IDA said, “With Singapore’s continued growth as a premium hub for data centres, we want to develop new technologies and standards that allow us to operate advanced data centres in the most energy efficient way in a tropical climate. New ideas and approaches, such as raising either the ambient temperature or humidity, will be tested to see if these can greatly increase our energy efficiency, with insignificant impact on the critical data centre operations.”

This trial builds upon IDA’s Green Data Centre Innovation Hub initiative that is part of the Green Data Centre Programme (GDCP) launched in late 2014. The Programme aims to boost overall data centre energy efficiency through innovation, pilot emerging technologies, and formulate new guidelines for sustainable computing.

“To create new value in our Smart Nation journey, we need to embrace an attitude of experimentation, to be willing to develop new ideas together, and test the feasibility of progressive and positive technological advancements that has a good possibility to enhance our industry's competitiveness," Khoong added.