HOLYOKE -- An experimental, solar-powered "microdata center" called MassNZ will be unveiled beside the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center at 100 Bigelow St. Friday at 10:15 a.m.
"MassNZ reinforces Holyoke's growing reputation as a leader in green energy, a hotbed of innovation and a magnet for academic and industrial investment," Mayor Alex B. Morse said in a press release. "It will also serve as an educational asset for local high schools and community colleges."
The experimental nature of the small Mass Net Zero Data Center (MassNZ) -- at 200 square feet, about the size of a one-vehicle garage -- lies in learning how much energy can be relied on from such a renewable source as solar. The goal is to help in powering an institution such as the computing center, an academic research hub that features thousands of computers that are "voracious users of energy," one official said.
Solar panels are located next to the small facility. Inside it are renewable cooling systems as well as batteries and micro-flywheels for energy storage, along with computer server, storage and network systems, said the press release from Pamela Jonah of Howell Communications in Boston.
The facility and solar panels take up an area 100 feet long by 30 feet wide, John T. Goodhue, computing center executive director, said in a phone interview.
The Holyoke Gas and Electric Department (HGE) provided the battery packs that are inside the facility and the connections linking the facility to the power grid, HGE Manager James M. Lavelle said in a phone interview.
The $165 million computing center opened Nov. 16, 2012 between Appleton and Cabot streets. The property formerly was Mastex Industries, which made fabric used for airbags and Armed Forces and industrial uses.
The partners in the computing center are Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Massachusetts, Boston University, Northeastern University, EMC Corp., of Hopkinton, an information storage, back-up and recovery firm, and Cisco Systems Inc., a California-based internet network equipment maker.
Among topics researched at the computing center are how atmospheric aerosols impact climate, understanding micron-sized particles' movement inside acoustic fields, designing data security systems, mapping Lou Gehrig's Disease, studying banana blight in Costa Rica, ways to predict earthquakes and the science of how fluids move, according to Goodhue and the computing center website.
"Data centers play an indispensable role in our increasingly connected world, but they are voracious users of energy," UMass-Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy said. "MassNZ is a hands-on research and educational resource that will help us understand how to decrease a data center's energy footprint and increase its use of renewable energy in an era when we are striving to reduce dependence on fossil fuels." Goodhue.jpg Executive Director John T. Goodhue discusses components of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in a tour Sept. 2, 2015. DAVE ROBACK / THE REPUBLICAN
Christopher Hill, principal research engineer and director of research computing at MIT's Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate, the new facility addresses the three obstacles faced by data center's that rely on thousands of computers and so much energy.
"There are three major obstacles to research in sustainable data center design: availability of experimental infrastructure to enable realistic prototyping and evaluation, availability of realistic use cases from a state-of-the-art green data center and real-time visibility into the utility infrastructure that provides data center power," Hill said.
The computing center is tax exempt, but in 2013 agreed to pay the city $80,000 a year based on the annual tax revenue due on the property before the center took over the seven parcels that comprise the site.
By Mike Plaisance | firstname.lastname@example.org