HP introduced a new modular data center at HP Discover this week that resembles a double wide mobile home with a cooling system that the company says has 95% better efficiency than the monolithic data centers built over the past 20 years.

The cooling system for the HP EcoPOD is designed to adapt to IT loads and outside conditions. For the most part, it uses air it pulls into the EcoPOD.

Here’s a hologram of the HP EcoPOD that I shot at HP Discover this week. There is a bit about the particulars of the EcoPOD in the video.

The container market is a crowded one as Rich Miller points out in a blog post this week on Data Center Knowledge. HP maintains its Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating is as low as 1.05. That’s pretty low. But is it the lowest?

Setting aside the PUE Olympics, the efficiency ratings for the EcoPOD certainly place it on a competitive footing with other modular designs offering free cooling, a group including SGI ICE Cube, BladeRoom, i/o Anywhere, the Dell DCS modular unit and even Microsoft’s IT-PAC design, which has recently been licensed to Savier. The growing number of players in the modular market is creating a virtuous cycle in which competitors are continually revising their designs to enhance their efficiency and usability.

HP touts the cost savings of the modular technology, which it says costs $8 million, compares to the $33 million for building a data center from the ground up. Those are impressive numbers but it is important to remember that this is a bit of a horse race. Competition is fierce in this data center boom time.

The new data centers represent transformation in IT but it really is a commodity game, a race for the most efficient data center technology at the lowest price. This is highlighted by projects such as OpenCompute, the data center initiative that Facebook launched. The goal for that project is to show how open systems can be used to create an efficient data center. That’s a philosophy shared by HP and one we can expect to be more common as infrastructures become standardized to support application innovation.

Still, the HP EcoPOD is a new innovation for HP. It plays on the need for new, efficient data centers that have efficiency and power savings as the top priority.

alex williams