SizeCap: Efficiently Handling Power Surges in Fuel Cell Powered Data Centers

22nd International Symposium on High Performance Computer Architecture (HPCA), March 12-16, Barcelona, Spain, 2016..

Yang Li, Di Wang*, Saugata Ghose, Jie Liu*, Sriram Govindan*, Sean James*, Eric Peterson*,
John Siegler*, Rachata Ausavarungnirun, Onur Mutlu

Carnegie Mellon University
* Microsoft Corporation


Fuel cells are a promising power source for future data centers, offering high energy efficiency, low greenhouse gas emissions, and high reliability. However, due to mechanical limitations related to fuel delivery, fuel cells are slow to adjust to sudden increases in data center power demands, which can result in temporary power shortfalls. To mitigate the impact of power shortfalls, prior work has proposed to either perform power capping by throttling the servers, or to leverage energy storage devices (ESDs) that can temporarily provide enough power to make up for the shortfall while the fuel cells ramp up power generation. Both approaches have disadvantages: power capping conservatively limits server performance and can lead to service level agreement (SLA) violations, while ESD-only solutions must significantly overprovision the energy storage device capacity to tolerate the shortfalls caused by the worstcase (i.e., largest) power surges, which greatly increases the total cost of ownership (TCO).

We propose SizeCap, the first ESD sizing framework for fuel cell powered data centers, which coordinates ESD sizing with power capping to enable a cost-effective solution to power shortfalls in data centers. SizeCap sizes the ESD just large enough to cover the majority of power surges, but not the worst-case surges that occur infrequently, to greatly reduce TCO. It then uses the smaller capacity ESD in conjunction with power capping to cover the power shortfalls caused by the worst-case power surges. As part of our new flexible framework, we propose multiple power capping policies with different degrees of awareness of fuel cell and workload behavior, and evaluate their impact on workload performance and ESD size. Using traces from Microsoft’s production data center systems, we demonstrate that SizeCap significantly reduces the ESD size (by 85% for a workload with infrequent yet large power surges, and by 50% for a workload with frequent power surges) without violating any SLAs.





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