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HP on Monday unveiled a new modular data center product it says is cheaper to buy and operate, as well as quicker to deploy, than the traditional "brick-and-mortar" way of expanding data center capacity.

Nicknamed EcoPOD, the HP POD 240a is bigger than a standard shipping container. The 2.3MW box fits 44 standard IT racks, or more than 4,400 servers. The company says it can deploy one in about 12 weeks.

Jim Ganthier, head of marketing metrics and solutions for industry standard server and software division at HP, told DatacenterDynamics that the capital expenditure for deploying 1.2MW of data center capacity using the EcoPOD could be up to 75% lower than it would for deploying that capacity the usual way.

The difference, according to Ganthier, is between about US$33m for 1.2MW of traditional data center capacity, and $8.3m for the same capacity built out going the EcoPOD route.

"That's going to fundamentally change both the expectations and the economics of data centers," he said. The $8.3m mark is at the top of the range, whose low end is at about $5m.

Operational savings come from the system's energy efficiency. Ganthier said a traditional 1.2MW data center could cost about $15.2m-$15.4m per year to operate, while operating an EcoPOD-based infrastructure of similar capacity would cost about $550,000 per year.

Efficiencies are realized through the EcoPOD's cooling system that utilizes airside economization, direct-expansion (Dx) cooling and automated infrastructure management.

In 100% free-cooling mode, EcoPOD's average PUE is 1.05, Ganthier said. The free-cooling system is supplemented by Dx, which can be expanded in a modular fashion if needed.

HP is using its Adaptive Cooling technology to control climate inside the EcoPOD.

The product provides an average power density of 44kW per rack, with peak density of 69kW. "It's a data center that uses one tenth of the space," Ganthier said.

The box has its own UPS systems, all security, fire suppression and management systems.

The EcoPOD is a departure from HP's existing modular data center portfolio, which until now has consisted of standard shipping containers. The company had 40-ft and 20-ft containerized data center solutions.

It also has a data center design based on modules larger than the EcoPOD and the bigger container. Called HP Flexible DC, the design scales in 800kW increments (up to four modules per facility) and costs about $7m per 1MW commissioned.