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Green Data Center in Ferrera Erbognone

70 million billion calculations a second, done with minimal environmental impact.

The technology

The Green Data Center in Ferrera Erbognone, in the province of Pavia, hosts Eni's central processing systems, both IT for management and Oil & Gas applications. It is home to HPC4 and its upgrade, HPC5: one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. According to the TOP500 list, HPC5 is the sixth most powerful supercomputer in the world, the highest ranked in Europe and the overall leader among non-governmental systems. Unveiled on 6 February, 2020, it is also among the greenest, with one of the lowest levels of electricity consumption per Petaflop/s. It has the same rankings in the GREEN500 list – sixth in the world for energy efficiency, the highest ranked in Europe and the top non-governmental system. Ignoring experimental computers and considering only true supercomputer systems with a consumption level of over 1MW, it becomes the second-best computer in the world for energy savings. In terms of size, concentration, transport, thermal disposal and overall efficiency, the center presents some of the most complicated problems in energy management. Our Green Data Center was set up with a view to total reliability when responding to the IT demands of the company, with efficiency in green energy. Ever since it opened in 2013, its results have been of world-beating excellence. This is why no changes have needed to be made to its infrastructure in the last seven years, and the GDC can easily house both HPC4 and HPC5 without any adaptations. Its power usage effectiveness (PUE), that is to say the ratio between its overall electric consumption and the consumption of each of its information components is 1.171, against a world average of 1.67. Work at the center in Ferrera Erbognone was the impulse for developing ISWEC and using wave energy, which is clean and inherently renewable.

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SUPERFAST#4: A look at tomorrow

The challenge of sustainability

The constant rise of the center's calculating power meant ever more sophisticated and careful management of its impact and of the technologies needed to reduce its impact. Around the world, the environmental impact of data centers is becoming a more and more important issue. In line with Eni's unwavering commitment to sustainability, our supercomputer has been designed to be as energy-efficient as possible, using energy produced by the solar plant at the Green Data Center in order to reduce emissions and running costs. A photovoltaic system was installed to power Eni’s Green Data Center as a way of using the Group's industrial land with the aim of producing renewable energy for use at Eni’s own industrial sites. The center does not help the sustainable model simply by minimising calculation and research work, but also by making a strong contribution to improving existing techniques. Suffice to say that thanks to HPC we have patented, in a short time, a new reactor that uses EST technology to convert the residue of refining, heavy oil and bitumen into light, high-quality products. 

Eco-friendly design

The Green Data Center's infrastructure is defined at every level by an eco-friendly design that consumes about half of the energy a traditional system of the kind would, and significantly reduce CO2 emissions. The center, along with the Enipower thermoelectric station that sits alongside it, is powered by a photovoltaic plant of about 1 MWp. This is the first plant brought into being within our project Progetto Italia, and it generates enough energy to satisfy the demands of 500 families. The energy produced by the 2,968 photovoltaic panels, spread across 106 cables, is consumed exclusively on site and is meant to partially compensate for the electricity consumption of the supercomputer.

The environmental efficiency of the Green Data Center is strengthened by the special cooling system that regulates temperature, and is run 98% of the time with external air, from which 3,000 kg of dust is filtered out every year. Traditional data centers, on the other hand, use uninterrupted air-conditioning and forced ventilation systems.

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Energy efficiency and the Green Data Center