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High Density, Passively Cooled, Modular Data Center


OHSU # 1514


Technology Overview

OHSU has designed a novel data center that enables the passive cooling of ultrahigh density data processing equipment. Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is the industry-accepted metric used to determine the energy efficiency of a data center. The average data center PUE is 1.50 to 1, with the most efficient, leading edge data centers ranging from 1.09 – 1.20 to 1. OHSU developed a high-efficiency data center that nets a PUE of 1.13 to 1. However, unlike the other green data centers, OHSU’s data center enables heterogenous central processing units (CPUs) within data rooms and even within racks. Consequently, when upgrades and/ or changes are needed to CPUs, the entire CPU inventory of the data center need not be swapped out at the same time.

Key Design Elements

Energy efficiency is crucial because data centers require massive power consumption and operating costs associated with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Subterranean features, air intake flow plans and exhaust system design elements eliminate the need for traditional HVAC systems. In the OHSU design, dome intake air wall surface area is equal to the surface area of the racks of CPUs inside the data center. A biofilter proximate to air intake passively and sustainably cools air as it is drawn into the building.

Exhaust fans run directly above the CPU racks, clearing the hot air that rises from the racks. The subterranean features enable thermal coupling of the structure with the ground to provide more effective and efficient regulation of the internal temperatures of the data center and the equipment therein. In the Pacific Northwest, a sought after region for modern high-efficiency data centers, the below-ground average temperature is approximately 50-55 degrees year-round. The use of subterranean features in the OHSU design helps maintain an ambient static temperature similar to ground temperature.

Design measures must anticipate and preclude natural disasters from disrupting continuous operation. The dome building design is particularly apt to withstand immense pressures generated in earthquakes. Further, the subterranean structures also provide additional protection for equipment and personnel from natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic ash fallout.

Data center building and/or architecture firms may license the patent rights to these unique design elements to improve their service offerings and boost PUE energy efficiency levels.

Patent Profile: US Patent Application 61/507,521



For more information, contact:

Arvin Paranjpe
Technology Development Manager