The Modular Data Center (MDC), opened June 2012, provides Tier 1 data center service. The state-of-the-art facility will help support U-M computational research needs in a way that matches the computing needs of the research to the appropriate level of data center reliability. The ability to offer varying levels of reliability minimizes spending on unnecessary power, infrastructure and support. By transitioning Tier 1 research computing space to the MDC, space currently being used for that purpose in Tier 2 and 3 data centers can be used to provide data center services that require higher reliability levels.
The MDC uses container or "POD" technology, which substantially decreases the cost and time needed for custom data center engineering and construction. The data center is manufactured and can more easily be expanded or replaced—the entire container can be removed, upgraded and returned or replaced with new technology. The MDC is composed of two 40 foot long containers that hold computer racks, power and cooling equipment. There is also a small permanent building that is used by staff to perform staging and maintenance activities.
The MDC will support high-density, high-performance computing—up to 24kW/rack. It uses ambient air for cooling approximately 75% of the year, thus significantly reducing the amount of energy needed for cooling and contributing to U-M's sustainability efforts. The MDC is expected to have Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of less than 1.5, which means that for every $1 in power output, it takes no more than $.50 to cool the computers.
U-M issued an RFP for a container data center solution in 2011.