Apr 1, 2014

Codero Designs New DC To Run on Recycled Fryer Oil

New Design will be Open Sourced Under the Apache 2.0 Licence


Codero’s New Used Oil Recycling Truck

Codero Hosting based out of Austin, Texas announced today that they are launching a new data center in Dallas Fort Worth which will feature their new servers designed to run almost entirely on used vegetable oil. The ingredients and process haven’t changed much in about 110 years, including the fact that it generates plenty of heat. Codero CEO, Emil Sayegh, a hosting industry visionary put it this way, “adding extra heat is, of course, the last thing you want to introduce to these racks of sensitive equipment. But, that is exactly why no one else is doing it and Codero will be the first.  Furthermore, we are open sourcing this design so that the whole world can benefit” Sayegh was exposed to some of the great ideas on how to Power Data Centers while at HP, when HP Labs engineers figured how to power DC with cow dung. Not to be outdone, Codero decided to boost to their green footprint and provide their customers alternatives to traditional power consuming hosting. We followed the Codero team in their development of this new innovative and green approach.

Taking Bio-fuel to a New Level

The approach devised by Codero engineers involves a great deal of imagination especially since other hosting providers have attempted a similar effort, but using methane from cows. This approach had to work better. In order to create the amount of electricity required to power each server for about 3 hours, you need to start with 300 gallons of used fryolator oil. That’s about a week’s worth of discarded oil from a typical burger shop. The first step when using bio-diesel fuel is to assemble the concoction of methanol, sodium hydroxide, lye and the oil. This mixture now needs to be heated to about 140 degrees before it can be used to power the engine and generate electricity through an inverter. Herein lies the first challenge.

Any datacenter ops guy will tell you that if you heat your dedicated servers to 140 degrees you are likely to cut their processing cycles in half(maybe more). In addition, this kind of heat so close to your spinning disks tends to make them expand, dropping their RPMs to as low as 1,000. Given that this is probably not suitable to host most eCommerce applications out there, the Codero team had to come up with something big to solve the problem.

Codero Techs to the Rescue

hot-server-roomIt was the Codero techs who came up with the first heat reduction method. Instead of relying upon the fryer oil to generate the power to run all of the server’s processors, disks and fans, the team decided to use the used oil to run only the flashing indicator lights on all the servers, routers and firewalls. This reduces your oil consumption for 3 hours down to about 150 gallons. When you consider all of the oil required to power thousands of servers in the facility, reducing the oil in the tank by this much also decreases the amount heat escaping into the datacenter. By taking this approach, the team was able to lower the temperature a full 5 degrees in the area around the racks. Now with servers running at about 135 degrees, you can theoretically start getting back some of those lost cycles, but that is just a theory. The whole place sure looked great, with all red, green and yellow lights flashing away and the biodiesel engines humming, but the Codero team still needed a way to be able to power the rest of the equipment, like the processors, boards and disks.

Going Green, Open Source-Style Under the Apache 2.0 Open Source Licence

No big deal for Codero. As part of their automation idea, Codero designed a way to take the exhaust which comes off of the bio-diesel engine currently powering the LEDs, to bring power to the rest of the equipment in the racks. In this process, the vegetable exhaust is run at a super high rate of speed in very close proximity to the mother board of these specially designed dedicated servers. The board (also designed by Codero techs) features a special feat of thermodynamic engineering which converts this high speed veggie gas into electricity. All we could get from the team regarding this part of the process is that the mechanism is constructed with a material which acts very much like titanium, but is a lot heavier. This makes it perfect for this kind of application. The good news is that this new approach worked like a charm. Humming like a small city and running at a cool 135 degrees, these servers and storage racks are now ready for hosting.
But once again, this team of engineers showed their dedication to excellence. They didn’t just want to be “ready” for hosting, they wanted to bring the hosting experience for their customers to a much higher level by taking down the heat even further. In addition, it all needed to be open-source, so that the world can easily take advantage of it, and the planet can be a better place for all of us. One of the more junior techs on the team did the math and determined that if they could drop the temperature to about 129 degrees, they could probably recover another 1/3 of the processing power and at least another 2,000 RPMs on their disks. “When you have tens of thousands of servers lined up in racks with all those diesel engines running, picking up extra performance by dropping the temperature and making it open source is no easy task. On the other hand, we really wanted recapture that extra processing power for our customers. I knew we could pull it off.”

Sync It All in Water?

Chris Branding (yes, the marketing guy) had the epiphany. “Let’s use water to cool the DC? After all, water cooling is used on lots of very hot equipment, why not a few thousand bio-diesel engines and servers?” The team unanimously agreed to the course of action. They just needed to submerge the entire datacenter under water. Now driven like a team possessed they hammered ahead designing water-tight enclosures for everything in the DC. The result is that they were able to keep 90% of the water out of the servers and also got to the temperature they needed for peak operations. Most importantly, it’s all open source. Another big win for the Codero team and a lot less fryolator oil to mess up the planet.

Don’t be fooled. If your hosting provider doesn’t run their servers on used fryer oil, you should come on over to Codero today.

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