Hussain earns NSF grant to make data centers more sustainable

December 2, 2022

By Ashley WennersHerron

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Syed Rafiul Hussain, assistant professor of computer science and engineering in the Penn State College of Engineering’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, was awarded a four-year, $206,598 grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a collaborator on a project to make data centers more sustainable.

Data centers — the banks of servers collecting and processing massive amounts of information — take an enormous amount of energy, according to Hussain.

“Data centers already contribute significantly to the global carbon footprint, and the rise in popularity of resource-intensive big data and machine learning workloads is poised to make data center operations unsustainable,” Hussain said. “This project designs a suite of Sustainability Aware Software Systems (SASSY) to enable ‘sustainable-by-design’ data centers.”

According to Hussain, SASSY is a measurement framework that focuses on sustainability through a holistic lens — energy source, carbon footprint of computing equipment and device reliability — to measure per-job, end-to-end sustainability costs. With the grant, Hussain and his team plan to develop new programming models, security architectures and tools to enable users to specify their sustainability and performance objectives and empower third-party regulatory agencies and users to verify the sustainability costs. These parameters will guide SASSY to make data-center-wide sustainable management choices.

SASSY’s open-source software and models will be available to data center operators and industry here. The project is led by Anshul Gandhi at Stony Brook University and includes the following collaborators: Kanad Ghose and Yu David Liu, Binghamton University; Dongyoon Lee, Zhenhua Liu, Shuai Mu and Erez Zadok, Stony Brook University; and Patrick McDaniel, University of Wisconsin.


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