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A Better Way to Cool Your Rack
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September 06, 2012

A Better Way to Cool Your Rack

By Jeff Hudgins, VP of Engineering, NEI, Inc.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

Electricity used in U.S. data centers likely accounts for 1.7 to 2.2 percent of total electricity use. This represents such a large overall financial impact that the time to drive more efficient power and cooling designs is now.

The traditional front-to-back rack server cooling design is where cool air is drawn in through the front of the servers and pushed out the back. Unfortunately heat rises, and the cool air becomes warm as it enters the rack. The greater the density of the rack, the greater the heat production. The two largest heat producers in a server are the power supplies and microprocessors and while Intel (News - Alert) continues to improve the power efficiency of the processor, they still can represent as much as 75 percent of the heat that needs to be dissipated. Front-to-back cooling becomes less desirable as it can lead to data center hot spots, lower reliability, and inefficient power usage.

Similar to the front-to-back method, front-to-top cooling draws air through the front of the rack on both sides of the servers and  hot air is pushed up to the top of the rack and exhausted. Unfortunately, not enough cold air can reach the top of the racks utilizing this method, and the result is once again a less efficient cooling design.

A better way to cool a rack is to introduce cold air from the bottom of the rack so that it can flow over the components inside the rack. The air must move at a high enough velocity to minimize the cooling differential at each level of the rack so the equipment near the top of the rack gets the cooling it needs to function properly.

Cirrascale's Patented Vertical Cooling Technology creates such an environment by producing a high velocity stream of cool air driving away hot air created by high performance components and power supplies.

So what's the final score? Vertical Cooling Technology can be ideal for large scale data centers where floor cooling is efficiently utilized and exhausted into ceiling ducts. Vertical cooling draws cool air up from the floor and forces it through the entire rack and exhausts into the ceiling, creating a constantly cool environment for a data center.

Jeff Hudgins is vice president of product management at NEI (News - Alert) Inc. (

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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