As part of Princeton Digital Group’s (PDG) sustainability initiative to enhance technology and energy efficiency, we are constantly working on better and more efficient data centers to empower the next generation of digital infrastructure. This ranges from keeping green practices up to date, to research and development work by dedicated in-house teams on cutting-edge solutions and new cooling technologies.

At the same time, PDG also works actively with like-minded communities and external organizations on new approaches to enhance energy efficiency and further lowering its carbon footprint. One such organization is the Open Compute Project, also known as OCP.

OCP for sustainability
Initially led by Facebook, OCP was founded a decade ago to increase the pace of innovation in the data center by applying the benefits of open source and open collaboration to hardware. To facilitate this, OCP shares best practices and designs of data center products to move the industry forward through improved integration and sustainability.

One benefit of systems that conform to OCP standards would be their ease of deployment and maintenance. OCP design guidelines call for fully integrated racks with no need for manual racking and stacking at the data center. Alternatively, users could choose to add more devices as they go using toolless mechanisms. And because OCP systems are focused on essential capabilities and integration, the result is higher energy efficiency as well as faster deployment times.

OCP-recognised hardware has been used by hyperscalers such as Facebook and Microsoft for many years. These designs are now being adopted by enterprises, telcos and the public sector throughout the world due to their efficiency, scale and openness compared to traditional OEM hardware. For example, one difference is how OCP systems can arrive in fully populated racks that might incorporate in-rack battery backup – negating the need for an upstream UPS.

Key differences can be summed up as:

  • Fully-loaded racks
  • Better energy efficiency
  • Decreased CAPEX and OPEX
  • Higher rack density and heavier racks
  • Community based engineered designs

Because OCP standards are open and public, equipment vendors, data center operators, and users alike can collaborate and work together to enhance performance. Moreover, OCP encourages innovation with different projects such as liquid cooling and ambient temperature cooling, ensuring that adherents can push the boundaries while staying within the remit of the standard. 

Achieving OCP Ready™ Certification
How can colocation providers meet the needs of the growing OCP Community? To address this, OCP published a facility assessment checklist for evaluating colocation facilities that include access, cabling, electrical, cooling, and efficiency, among others. The facility must meet minimum OCP requirements to be “OCP Ready™” with each criterion defined as “Acceptable” or “Optimal”, with the latter reserved for more mature implementations.

For instance, a floor loading capacity of at least 500kg per rack and a maximum IT load of 6.6kW are required for an acceptable rating. A more advanced facility with a high floor loading capacity of 1,500kg per rack and a maximum IT load of 36kW would be assessed as optimal.

Though PDG uses a hybrid deployment of both modules and white space, a focus on the high requirements of hyperscalers meant that meeting the assessment proved to be relatively straightforward. Indeed, an internal review of PDG’s SG1 data center in Singapore saw it gaining “Optimal” rating for the vast majority of the OCP specifications, with the remainder squarely in the “Acceptable” range.

Notably, the OCP checklist offers a potential glimpse of what more sophisticated data center customers might look for in the future. With this in mind, PDG is sharing awareness of OCP with the broader data center community in the Asia Pacific to broaden adoption and advance the industry via the OCP Experience Center set up at PDG‘s SG1 which is also an OCP Ready™ Facility. PDG is also working to get its other facilities certified as “OCP Ready™” to meet growing enquiries about OCP compliance.

Towards greater sustainability
Sustainability is a core pillar within PDG, and we are always looking to see how we can contribute to moving the needle in a meaningful way. OCP designs are geared towards energy and operational efficiency, both drivers that PDG as a data center operator and our end-users, are constantly looking at to stay at the forefront of the technology curve.

As we head into the future, there is no doubt that data centers must work together to enhance energy efficiency. Unfortunately, the siloed nature of the industry means that open communication between vendors, facility operators, system integrators, and end-users can be improved. As a counterweight, OCP is an open community where like-minded individuals and organizations come together to further advance the industry.

Within a short period of PDG initiating conversations with the international OCP Community, we have already received calls from equipment manufacturers to collaborate on more efficient designs. Moving ahead, we hope to support the OCP Community with more engagement across the broader data center industry and to facilitate users to better understand the benefits of an open platform such as OCP.