Google is Switching to a Self-Driving Data Center Management System
Most data center operators don’t think your typical tornado-watch period is the best time to start tweaking cooling-system settings for marginal energy savings. It’s usually time to batten down the hatches and hope the power stays on. Humans have their priorities.
But an Artificial Intelligence algorithm designed to look for every opportunity to shave off a kilowatt-hour will take that opportunity if it sees it, regardless of weather.
Related: When Air No Longer Cuts It: Inside Google’s AI-Driven Shift to Liquid Cooling
Well, maybe not entirely regardless of weather.
Under a recent tornado watch, the AI system managing the cooling plant at one of Google’s data centers in the Midwest changed the plant’s settings in a way which the facility’s human operators found counterintuitive. After closer scrutiny, however, it did what had to be done to save energy under those specific circumstances.
Weather conditions that make a severe thunderstorm likely to form include a big drop in atmospheric pressure and dramatic temperature and humidity changes. Weather plays a big role in the way some of the more sophisticated data center cooling systems are tuned, and the software running Google’s cooling system recalibrated it to take advantage of the changes – no matter how small the advantage.
That wasn’t quite the same system as the one Joe Kava, Google’s VP of data centers, described in 2014, when he first revealed that the company was using AI to improve data center energy efficiency. That system, developed by Google’s then data center engineer Jim Gao, was implemented as a recommendation engine.