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Green IT Cube receives eco label — Blue Angel for high-performance data center of FAIR and GSI

24.06.2020

The high-performance data center of GSI and FAIR, the Green IT Cube, was awarded the “Blue Angel” as a label of special environmental friendliness. Currently, this makes it the only data center to receive the eco label of the German government. Thanks to a special cooling system, it is particularly energy efficient and conserves resources. The Green IT Cube is one of the most powerful scientific data centers in the world. It will provide enormous computing capacities for experiments at the accelerator facilities of GSI and, in the future, FAIR.

The Green IT Cube was built at the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt and was financed with funds from the German Federal Government and the State of Hesse via Helmholtz investments in further expansion. The concept allows the realization and the particularly efficient operation of computer centers for large-scale research facilities, such as the international accelerator facility FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research) being built at GSI.

"The Green IT Cube is an exceptionally energy-efficient data center because the energy required for cooling the computers is very low compared to conventional data centers," explained Dr. Helmut Kreiser, who is head of the data centers on the GSI/FAIR campus. "The Green IT Cube cools its computers with an innovative air and water method. As a result, the energy required for cooling is less than seven percent of the electrical power used for computing, instead of 30 up to 100 percent as is the case in conventional data centers with air cooling".

The effective cooling technology allows a space-saving placement of the computers in the Green IT Cube. In a cube-shaped building measuring 27 x 30 x 22 cubic meters, 768 computer racks in total can be arranged closely together on six floors. At present, two of the six floors are equipped with a maximum cooling power of four megawatts. In the final stage the Green IT Cube will be able to reach a cooling power of twelve megawatts. Due to saving energy and space, it is very cost-efficient. In addition, the waste heat of the Green IT Cube’s servers is already being used to heat a modern office and canteen building on the GSI/FAIR campus.

The technology was developed by Professor Volker Lindenstruth from Goethe University Frankfurt and at that time head of GSI-IT, and Professor Horst Stöcker, also from Goethe University and at that time Scientific Managing Director of GSI, in cooperation with the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS). The powerful concept has already won several awards for innovation and environmental friendliness.

"We are very happy and of course proud to receive such a well-known and renowned label as the Blue Angel for our data center," said Professor Paolo Giubellino, Scientific Managing Director of FAIR and GSI. "The technology for the cooling system is not only an example of the competence and the inventive spirit of our scientists, but also of the potential of a research center like ours to contribute to improving even already established technology in terms of sustainability and efficiency. Pursuing and expanding this potential is a major concern of our research at GSI and FAIR".

Scientists use the Green IT Cube to perform simulations and develop detectors for FAIR. They also analyze measurement data recorded in experiments at the accelerator facilities at GSI and, in the future, FAIR, to gain fundamental insights into the structure of matter and the evolution of the universe. To this end, the Green IT Cube will be equipped in the long term with computer systems that meet the scientists' requirements in terms of computing power, storage capacity and access speed.

For over 40 years, the Blue Angel has been the environmental label of the German Federal Government and an orientation for sustainable purchasing. Independent and credible, it sets demanding standards for environmentally friendly products and services. The Blue Angel guarantees that products and services awarded with it meet high requirements of environmental, health and usage properties. The entire life cycle must always be taken into account in the assessment. For each product group, criteria are developed which products and services labelled with the Blue Angel must fulfil. To reflect technical developments, the German Environment Agency reviews the criteria every three to four years. In this way companies are required to make their products increasingly environmentally friendly. The Green IT Cube is the first data center to receive the eco label of the German government on the basis of the criteria changed in 2019. (CP)

Further information:

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Outside view of the Green IT Cube.
View inside the Green IT Cube filled with computer racks.
Label of the Blue Angel for the Green IT Cube.
Photo: G. Otto, GSI/FAIR
Photo: G. Otto, GSI/FAIR

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