Nearly three years of construction time, 5,100 truck loads of dirt and an area of 8,700 m2 (93,646 sq ft): Audi has designed its new data center at its Ingolstadt site for the future - in its protection of resources as well.
“We are reducing our energy consumption by at least one-third in the new main data center,” says project leader Hans Heiss. Data centers in Ingolstadt consumed around 25 million KWh in 2012, enough energy to power 7,100 households. The new central building doubles server capacity and implements state-of-the-art technology. “There is a lot of savings potential, especially in cooling,” says Heiss.
Efficient technology and a highly advanced approach to air conditioning are being exploited in the new computing rooms. By using indirect outdoor cooling, for example, the servers are cooled exclusively with outside air at outdoor temperatures ranging up to just over ten degrees Celsius. “The new technology lets us do without energy-intensive air conditioning compressors for over half of the year,” explains Heiss. In the new building, systems operate with a high degree of efficiency and low losses, e.g. recirculation cooling units with energy-saving motors.
In the event of a power failure at the new data center, the servers must continue to run – even if it only lasts a few milliseconds. “Today, nothing at the entire site would operate without data from this central facility,” says Hans Heiss. Previously, lead-acid batteries buffered power until the emergency power units could be started, and these batteries filled entire rooms.
New kinetic energy storage
Audi relies on kinetic energy storage devices in the new data center. “Imagine large, heavy flywheels weighing three metric tons,” explains the project leader. If a power failure occurs, the flywheel continues to rotate another 30 to 60 seconds and supplies electricity via a connected generator – enough time to start the emergency power units. “Although the new storage device is somewhat more expensive,” comments Heiss, “its performance is impressive with longer life and therefore greater sustainability.”
Audi is extending its IT area at a fast pace; it currently supports around 51,000 Windows users and 62,000 mailboxes and handles a data volume of 7.1 Petabytes – the equivalent of around 1.5 billion MP3 songs. In the new data center, the up to 6,000 servers and network components are interconnected via glass fiber cables with a total length of around 44 km (27.34 miles).