GSI and NDC-GARBE cooperate to develop and commercialize sustainable Green IT Cube technology within the Digital Open Lab


GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH ("GSI") and NDC-GARBE Data Centers Europe GmbH ("NDC-GARBE") have signed a cooperation agreement. Back in 2020, NDC-GARBE had acquired the Intellectual Property (IP) and patents for the construction of sustainable data centers based on the Cube concept from GSI and Goethe University Frankfurt. The subject of this newly concluded cooperation agreement is the use, further development and marketing of the Cube concept, in particular the energy-efficient cooling system, within the framework of the Digital Open Lab. The contract was signed by Scientific Managing Director Professor Paolo Giubellino and the Administrative Managing Director Dr. Ulrich Breuer of GSI and FAIR and, for NDC-GARBE, by Managing Director Peter Pohlschröder.

Digital Open Lab

A transformation to the Green Economy will hardly succeed without increasingly energy-efficient large-scale data centers. New concepts and technologies are needed to meet society’s enormous hunger for data and the growing demand of the scientific community,  in a sustainable way. To meet these needs, GSI/FAIR expanded one floor at their supercomputing center Green IT Cube earlier this year, turning it into an IT living lab: the Digital Open Lab. For this purpose, GSI received project funding from the REACT-EU program. In the future, among the research and development projects to be carried out via the Digital Open Lab will be those on the more sustainable operation of data centers, together with industrial partners. Likewise, partners from the scientific environment have the opportunity to use the data center for their research work.

Inspired by a large number of industrial visits and inquiries, the Technology Transfer department of GSI/FAIR initiated the implementation of the living laboratory. Previously, there was no development and test platform under real conditions in Germany, neither for researchers nor for companies. This requirement gave rise to the idea of a digital living lab. 

The Digital Open Lab aims to explore and test digital innovations for energy-efficient high-performance computing and ultra-fast data processing, in particular using liquid cooling media, preparing them for industrial application. For this purpose, the Digital Open Lab offers a basic infrastructure where changing application scenarios can be set up according to the requirements of the industrial partners. However, these must allow the realistic simulation of an industrial application scenario, both in terms of the size of the demonstrator (a large number of servers and other components) and in terms of the connections and options for different operating modes (e.g. duration of operation under high loads).

The Digital Open Lab provides the necessary resources for this task. Technologies can be tested in collaboration with industry in dimensions, technical environments and operating scenarios that come much closer to industrial use than the conventional development environment in the laboratory. 

The necessary cluster networks with scientists contributing content-wise as well as companies with attractive application scenarios are currently being established. Suitable, efficient and sustainable transfer structures are to be derived from this. 
This will make it possible to: 

  1. identify technologies with potential and suitable fields of application outside use in basic research;
  2. validate potential technologies in the identified fields of application with market participants;
  3. develop and implement transfer strategies for specific technologies into specific fields of application; 
  4. structure and finance suitable transfer projects with partners from research and industry; and 
  5. establish a thematically appropriate industry network and support the identification, validation and transfer of technologies. 

Green IT Cube — The technology

The Green IT Cube is an environmentally friendly high-performance data center with a special cooling system. The generated heat is dissipated through heat exchangers mounted on the back of the racks and cooled with a liquid medium. This reduces the energy required for cooling to about one-tenth compared to conventional data centers. Furthermore, the data center does not require any complex cooling of the high-volume room air. With half the floor height, the computer cabinets can be arranged much more densely, as in a high-bay warehouse, which reduces investment costs. In addition to the electrical power required to supply the computer components, the Green IT Cube data center requires less than ten percent of energy consumption for cooling and all other operations (PUE<1.1). 

Professor Volker Lindenstruth and Professor Horst Stöcker are the inventors of this environmentally friendly data center technology. They developed a visionary overall concept of a highly optimized cooling structure for the most energy-efficient large-scale data centers. Construction of the Green IT Cube took place from mid-December 2014 to December 2015, with commissioning taking place in January 2016. The technology has been successfully in operation since then, undergoing continuous improvements.

The high-performance Green IT Cube concept has repeatedly won national and international awards for innovation and environmental friendliness; most recently, it was awarded the Federal Environment Agency's Blue Angel eco-label. Even before the actual completion of the floor, the Digital Open Lab was awarded the Datacenter Strategy Award 2022 in the field of innovation. This was in recognition of GSI/FAIR's strategy to use the Green IT Cube as a living laboratory for developing new ideas and innovations in collaboration with startups, companies and research institutes. (CP)


The GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt operates a world unique accelerator facility for ions. Some of the best-known results are the discovery of six new chemical elements and the development of a new type of cancer therapy. The new international accelerator center FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research), one of the largest research projects worldwide, is currently under construction at GSI. At FAIR, matter that usually only exists in the depth of space will be produced in a lab for research. Scientists from all over the world will use the facility for experiments to gain new insights about the building blocks of matter and the evolution of the universe, from the Big Bang to the present. They will also develop new applications in medicine and technology.


NDC-GARBE ( is a German data center developer. The international team combines decades of experience in European real estate developments with a profound knowledge of data center technologies and a deep understanding of the market. The focus is on projects in markets with the highest demand in Germany and neighboring European countries. Whether based on modular and cost-optimized standard solutions or a data center according to customer-specific requirements, NDC-GARBE assures a smooth process and on-time completion throughout all project phases.