Multi Sentry Makeover Achieves First Class Savings For University Of Bristol

Upgrading to Multi Sentry (MST) UPS systems helps the University of Bristol deliver annual efficiency savings of almost £100,000.

The University of Bristol was founded in 1876. Today it enjoys a well-earned reputation as one of the UK’s leading research institutions. Alumni include Nobel Laureates such as Paul Dirac, Sir Nevill Mott, and Sir Winston Churchill.

The High Performance Computing (HPC) Centre at the institution is recognised as one of the country’s foremost academic hubs.

It is home to ‘BlueCrystal’, an advanced supercomputer capable of an incredible 600 trillion calculations a second.

This processing power aides research topics as diverse as physics, including quantum mechanics and nanoscience, through to climate modelling, engineering, chemistry simulations, and even language studies. Scientists even use ‘BlueCrystal’ to model the evolution of galaxies.

The current 1MVA HPC Centre was built in 2009 with what was cutting-edge technologies at the time. But the legacy equipment was getting dated nearly a decade on.

The University of Bristol has strong environmental and sustainability policies, including a target to be carbon neutral by 2030. To help meet these objectives, it decided to upgrade the HPC Centre’s critical electrical infrastructure to more energy-efficient technology.

UPS Systems plc, a certified Riello UPS reseller and service partner, earned the contract to perform the upgrade.

University Challenge

The project came with some strict parameters. Access to the HPC facilities is crucial for academic and research staff undertaking their work. It wasn’t an option to close the centre down during the upgrade – zero interruption was non-negotiable.

In addition, temperature constraints meant that UPS batteries couldn’t be installed in the data centre’s white space, the area where all the IT equipment is placed.

This is because the target operational temperature for the HPC Centre’s data centre was 24°C, whereas batteries are ideally kept at a lower temperature of 20°C.

The existing setup was a single incoming mains supply feeding into an A stream of 160kVA power to the server racks via uninterruptible power supplies, plus a B stream through 800kVA of power conditioning units.

The University stipulated an N+N configuration for the proposed equipment upgrade. Both streams would provide 400kW of UPS-protected power, with at least five minutes runtime at full load to provide adequate protection in the event of any mains failure.

Improving the PUE of the HPC’s critical power infrastructure from 1.52 to below 1.10 was another key project goal.

Moving To Multi Sentry

“To meet the University’s key project requirements, we needed a UPS system that combined exceptional performance and availability with the most advanced high-efficiency technology.

“The obvious choice was the latest offering from the Multi Sentry (MST) range manufactured by Riello UPS, who we are an authorised reseller and service partner.

“The Multi Sentry offers unity power factor (kVA = kW) and delivers exceptional operating efficiency of up to 96.5%. It is designed to power capacitive, high-density loads such as blade servers, making it the ideal solution for the HPC Centre.

“An added advantage with the MST is that it has one of the most compact footprints of any UPS in its category. This frees up valuable floor space and means it’s a great choice in environments where room is at a premium.”

– Jack Ogden, Commercial Director for UPS Systems plc

200kVA Multi Sentry UPS replaced the three existing 80kVA UPS systems and pair of 400kVA power conditioners.

Batteries were housed separately in a dedicated storage room, meaning they could be kept at the optimum (lower) temperature.

Significant Efficiency And Space Savings

As a result of the Multi Sentry upgrade, UPS efficiency throughout the HPC Centre rose from 66% to 92%. This delivered a net reduction in energy waste of more than 76kW (from 82.4kW to below 6kW).

Based on the existing IT load of 200kW, these energy savings – just from the UPS system – total £80,000 a year, as well as reducing University’s carbon emissions by 185 tonnes.

Because the MST requires much less air conditioning than the previous power protection system, the total annual energy savings are actually worth above £97,000.

These savings could top £240,000 a year by the time the system reaches its final anticipated load of 400kW.

The critical power infrastructure’s PUE fell from 1.52 to 1.04, smashing the projected target of 1.10.

And as the Multi Sentry enjoys one of the smallest footprints in its category, the upgrade freed up more than 30m2 of usable white space in the HPC Centre’s data centre.

The University used this valuable floor space to install 12 more server racks to boost processing capacity.

“The installation of the UPS was a large and complicated project, in the challenging environment of a historical building, which was successfully completed on schedule.

“The benefits of the UPS were immediately apparent and resulted in very much improved stability and availability of our service. We will definitely include this in future projects.”

– Simon Burbidge, Director of Advanced Computing, IT Services for the University of Bristol