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GE invests in SynapSense to cut data center energy

As part of its smart grid and digital energy push, GE contributes to a $5 million investment in SynapSense, which uses sensors to manage data center energy.

General Electric on Monday said it will invest in and partner with SynapSense, a start-up that makes a system for reducing data center energy with the help of wireless sensors.

Using sensors, SynapSense can create a thermal map of the racks in a data center.
SynapSense uses sensors to create a thermal map of data center racks. SyapSense

GE Energy Financial Services is joining existing investors to put $5 million into Folsom, Calif.-based SynapSense, which was founded four years ago. The start-up had previously raised $20 million from Emerald Technology Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, American River Ventures, Nth Power, and DFJ Frontier.

SynapSense is one of a handful of companies designing data center energy management systems, which use sensors to collect environmental data from inside data centers.

By placing sensors on racks and beneath the floor of data centers, operators can get an accurate picture of the effectiveness of cooling and find ways to optimize it. Cooling is one of the biggest operational costs of data centers, so energy efficiency is becoming a higher priority as companies build out computing systems.

SynapSense says that its AdaptiveControl application, which collects data from sensors, can reduce cooling costs by 20 percent to 35 percent. For example, the application can change the fan speed on a server rack to cut electricity while maintaining an acceptable temperature.

GE is already using the system in its own data centers and, through this investment, will connect AdaptiveControl to GE's data center management system for viewing real-time data on performance.

In a release, GE said that the investment in SynapSense is one of its efforts to work with technology start-ups in digital energy and the smart grid.