WWT Helps Global Financial Services Firm Identify a Data-Driven Path toward NetZero
In this case study
As organizations across the world strive toward a more sustainable future, data centers often serve as a critical barrier to reaching important sustainability standards.
Data centers are massive consumers of energy and rarely optimized for efficiency. The more you need your data center to work for you, the more energy your data center consumes. And as technology accelerates and the computational power of servers increases — the next generation of CPUs will be approaching or exceeding 350 peak watts — fans and strong AC units are simply not able to keep up.
Organizations need a more efficient way to cool their data centers — to increase productivity, avoid massive utility bills and meet sustainability goals. Solutions exist, but the market is complex and moving fast.
Recognizing this challenge, one of the largest financial services firms in the world turned to WWT to provide an actionable, practical approach.
WWT had worked with the customer for years, designing, validating and deploying more than 1,000 racks that helped underpin the company's ability to service its customers by acting with cloud-like speed and agility. So when the company's CEO announced in early 2021 a stringent goal to make its data centers carbon neutral by 2030, WWT stood ready to play a significant role.
The customer was facing a very real, complicated engineering challenge: They needed to develop a solution that could more efficiently cool CPUs while keeping its data centers operational and effective in as non-invasive a way as possible.
Further, the solution needed to be identified quickly to meet important sustainability milestones set forth by the company's executive team and work at scale across massive data centers.
Having established a trusted partnership with the customer already, we were able to quickly pull a set of servers from the supply chain to begin testing solutions and found encouraging results from one solution, in particular — ZutaCore, a liquid cooling system that can move heat out of the systems with the smallest possible impact to regular data center operations.
Liquid cooling was not a new concept to the customer. But like many other business leaders, they were sold the idea of liquid cooling as the solution without any validated facts or figures to back it up.
In the proof of concept, we measured the cumulative power draw of 33 servers over 24 hours with a 99 percent CPU load while being cooled with liquid and then in a separate test air. The POC revealed:
- A 4-degree Celsius drop in temperature versus standard air.
- A 5 percent drop in total server power consumption.
Effectively, a more temperate server means server fans and/or data center air conditioning units have to work less, creating a more efficient and cost-effective operation. More detail on the POC and its results can be found here.
WWT's rigorous and methodical approach to testing and validating solutions provided the customer with a practical approach based in science and data.
Of course, running a solution in a lab is drastically different than running it at scale. Aside from proving the solution could work, we also needed to prove it could work for the business.
One of the main takeaways from this POC was just how non-invasive the solution turned out to be.
ZutaCore uses a dielectric, non-corrosive, non-toxic and fire-retardant liquid that is ideally suited to cool electronics. The ZutaCore solution is made up of various components:
- The Smart Heat Rejection Unit, a 6U device that resembles a basic radiator and converts hot or warm liquid into cooled liquid via a condenser.
- The cooled liquid is pumped to the cool side of the Smart Refrigerant Distribution Unit.
- From there it travels to the Enhanced Nucleation Evaporator, which acts as a CPU heat sink.
- The CPU heats the liquid to a vapor where it then travels back to the S-RDU hot side and then back to the S-HRU for cooling.
The solution would not require the customer to rip out and replace its data centers or reinforce floors for immersion tanks or void product warranties. Comparatively speaking, it was easier to implement at scale because of its relative simplicity.
Data centers are entering a new era of unprecedented compute that is certain to extrapolate the amount of power they consume.
Like many other organizations around the world, the global financial services customer that worked with WWT needed to find a solution quickly to progress along its timeline to meet publicly stated sustainability goals.
Utilizing the power and intelligence of WWT's ATC to definitively identify ZutaCore as a pragmatic solution to cool its data centers, the customer now has a proven, clear path toward achieving its net zero emissions by 2030.