Data centre for the tropics to be tested here

Trial will be first in the world to see how centres can work in hot and humid climates

An environment-friendly data centre, designed to work efficiently in Singapore's warm and humid climate, will go on trial here later this year in a partnership between the Government and industry parties.

The Tropical Data Centre trial will be the first of its kind in the world to test how data centres, which give off lots of heat and require lots of cooling, can be designed to function optimally at temperatures of up to 38 deg C and ambient humidity of up to or exceeding 90 per cent.

It is the next step in the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore's (IDA) Green Data Centres Programme launched in late 2014.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim announced the trial at yesterday's Ministerial Forum for Infocomm Technology, which precedes the week-long Infocomm Media Business Exchange (imbX) infocomm trade show at Marina Bay Sands, starting today.

"Not only will it expand the geographical limitation of siting data centres, it will also cut back on the existing energy requirements for the running of such centres," said Dr Yaacob.

THE GREEN HOPE

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.

MR KHOONG HOCK YUN, IDA assistant chief executive.

The centre could cut energy costs by up to 40 per cent and also reduce carbon emissions. Data centres are now cooled to between 20 deg C and 25 deg C, and kept to within 50 per cent and 60 per cent relative ambient humidity. A large part of their operating costs arise from energy consumption to maintain such conditions.

IDA assistant chief executive Khoong Hock Yun said: "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 proof of concept will test, with simulated data, how data servers react to real-life situations like peak surges, or data transfer in various conditions such as without temperature or humidity controls.

IDA is working with partners such as Dell, Huawei, Keppel Data Centres and the Nanyang Technological University on the trial, which will begin in the third quarter of this year in a Keppel Data Centres facility.

Dr Yaacob also announced that with growing use and expectations of 4G mobile services, Singapore will be one of the first countries in the world to impose minimum standards for it.

This Quality of Service framework will cover both outdoor and indoor 4G service quality. More details will be given by IDA tomorrow.

Separately, technology firms will display their latest at three exhibitions under the imbX umbrella today - CommunicAsia, EnterpriseIT and BroadcastAsia.

Singapore Technologies Electronics will showcase at Communic- Asia a smart bus stop with screens that display the arrival time of buses and how crowded they are.

Sensors at bus stops will detect mobile phone signals there and that will indicate how crowded the stops are.

Bus operators can use this data to send more buses to these stops to ease the crowd.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2016, with the headline 'Data centre for the tropics to be tested here'. Print Edition | Subscribe