DOE announces - Smart Energy Decisions

Demand Management, Energy Efficiency, Industrial  -  June 14, 2016

DOE unveils $25M in funds available through data center efficiency program

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy recently announced up to $25 million in funding for a new program focused on creating innovative components to increase the energy efficiency of data centers.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy group, or ARPA-E, says the program — called ENLITENED, aims to double data center energy efficiency by using innovative data-communications network designs and methods.  

The explosive growth of the internet has led to an increase in energy consumption by the information communications technology sector, the DOE said in announcing the program, citing a recent estimate that data centers consumed an amount of electricity sufficient to power every household in New York City twice over. What's more, that amount is projected to double in about eight years.

There are many approaches to improve energy efficiency in data centers, but ultimately the metal interconnects currently used to transmit information between the devices within a datacenter will limit efficiency gains, the DOE said. ENLITENED seeks to overcome the limitations of these interconnects and to prioritize overall datacenter energy efficiency. 

The ENLITENED program will focus on four main areas: overcoming the challenges associated with integration and packaging of photonic interconnects, high radix photonic switches (computer network devices that connect and route data to other devices), creating new datacenter network architectures using these innovative components, and modeling and simulation of new datacenters to demonstrate a pathway to commercialization. If the technical targets of ENLITENED are achieved, ARPA-E estimates the deployment of these technologies will double datacenter energy efficiency in addition to what is already possible using existing methods.

ARPA-E is encouraging outstanding scientists and engineers from different organizations, scientific disciplines, and technology sectors to form new project teams for the ENLITENED program. The agency believes that interdisciplinary and cross-organizational collaborations can facilitate scientific and technological discoveries that a single group alone would not be able to achieve. 

The deadline to submit a content paper for the program is 5 p.m. ET on July 25.  More information on the ENLITENED Teaming Partner Arrangements can be found here, and the full ENLITENED funding opportunity announcement can be found here

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