The massive data centers needed to store and run a university's information systems eat up huge amounts of energy and staff time. To help curb the costs associated with these resources, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, Pa., have opened a dual-purpose facility that is both a working data center and a research vehicle for the study of data center automation and efficiency.

The 2,000-square-foot Data Center Observatory (DCO) has the ability to support 40 racks of computers, which would consume energy at a rate of up to 774 kilowatts per hour--more than

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