TMCnews Featured Article
November 20, 2012
Airflow and Power Consumption Essential Considerations in the Design of the Cloud Data Center
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
The design and ultimate operation of the data center is bound to be more successful when airflow and thermal management are taken into consideration from the onset. In doing so, data center managers are more likely to ensure the uptime of supported applications, efficient operations and a consistent experience with all equipment. As the cloud data center continues to gain attention, details that address operational efficiency are becoming more important.
A recent Panduit white paper explores how new advancements in technology including cloud computing and virtualization are increasing the density requirements of the power rack. High density applications are driving the utilization of any server from 10 percent in the past to as much as 90 percent now. In doing so, the power density and airflow requirements are doubling or even tripling.
An increase in densities can make it less appealing to simply address the problem by overcooling the system. Overcooling can seem like the logical approach, but it doesn’t come without considerable costs, especially in the cloud data center. Applying more cooling within the data center requires air handlers or fans to run faster, which draws additional power.
With efficient processes in the cloud data center, you should be able to lower power consumption in cooling processes by 1 to 2 percent for every degree increase in the air temperature. By avoiding overcooling in this environment, power consumption should decrease, as well as overall operating costs. If the airflow is tuned by adjustments to the HVAC fan speed, energy efficiency savings will be realized.
Optimization can occur in the new cloud data center and the aging data center. The key is to optimize the thermal environment to ensure the delivery of maximum energy savings. This is possible through the application of ASHRAE 2011 Thermal Guidelines using simulation of the thermal environment before changes are implemented. This helps the data center manager to determine the scenario most optimized to achieve the maximum savings in energy.
To ensure the right temperate in the cloud data center, the right air temperature needs to be delivered to the inlet for each piece of equipment. At the same time, hot air needs to be efficiently removed. The first step in ensuring the right mix of hot and cold air is to implement industry standards and best practices at the cabinet and room levels.
Fortunately, not all efficiencies have to be achieved through expensive changes to the cloud data center or the aging data center. Panduit suggests that simple common sense approaches be applied where possible. For instance, to improve airflow management and thermal performance, data center managers can ensure the proper placement of perforated tiles; use blanking panels in the racks; seal cable entry and exit points; and separate the hot air from the cold air supply.
Panduit can offer assistance in determining the best application of industry standards. While common sense can go a long way, it also helps to have the right technologies in place to ensure the most efficient operation.
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Edited by Stefanie Mosca