The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is partnering with Hewlett Packard Enterprise to develop AI and ML technologies for efficient data center operation.

The Department of Energy lab will share more than five years’ worth of historical data from sensors within its supercomputers, Peregrine and Eagle, and also in its facility, one of the world's most efficient data centers. This information will help other organizations to optimize their own operations, said NREL.

Smart supercomputers


The three-year-long 'AI Ops R&D collaboration' has access to more than 16 terabytes of data from the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) HPC Data Center.

The ESIF had an average power useage effectiveness (PUE) of just 1.032 in 2017, and currently captures 97 percent of the waste heat from its supercomputers to warm nearby office and lab space.

The groups claim that early results based on models trained with historical data were able to predict or identify events that previously occurred in NREL’s data center. The focus is on monitoring energy usage to optimize energy efficiency and sustainability as measured by metrics such as PUE, Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE), and Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE).

The project, spun out of the DOE's exascale-focused PathForward initiative, will have four key areas:

  • Monitoring: Collect, process and analyze vast volumes of IT and facility telemetry from disparate sources before applying algorithms to data in real-time
  • Analytics: Big data analytics and machine learning will be used to analyze data from various tools and devices spanning the data center facility
  • Control: Algorithms will be applied to enable machines to solve issues autonomously as well as intelligently automate repetitive tasks and perform predictive maintenance on both the IT and the data center facility
  • Data center operations: AI Ops will evolve to become a validation tool for continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) for core IT functions that span the modern data center facility

“Our research collaboration will span the areas of data management, data analytics, and AI/ML optimization for both manual and autonomous intervention in data center operations,” Kristin Munch, manager for the data, analysis and visualization group at NREL, said.

“We’re excited to join HPE in this multi-year, multi-staged effort—and we hope to eventually build capabilities for an advanced smart facility after demonstrating these techniques in our existing data center.”

Mike Vildibill, VP of HPE's advanced technologies group, added: “We believe our journey to develop and test AI Ops with NREL, one of our longstanding and innovative partners, will allow the industry to build and maintain smarter and more efficient supercomputing data centers as they continue to scale power and performance.”