Raising the Temperature with Power Services for Data Centers

Power services for data centers has recently become a topic of much discussion and debate, so much so, that a method for measuring the energy usage efficiency in data centers has been presented. This ratio measurement is called the ‘Power Usage Effectiveness’ (PUE). The PUE represents a comparison of the energy consumption of the entire facility, with the energy consumed by the key computing components. A PUE theoretical ratio of 1.0 would therefore infer that a data center was 100 percent energy efficient.

Power Services for Data Centers

This is never the case in reality however, although some larger companies have managed to reduce their PUE to within a range of 1.2 to 1.5. This deviation from theory is owing to the fact that energy is consumed and lost in a number of ways within a data center before it even reaches the computing components. One of the main ways in which energy is lost is through IT equipment cooling.

Owing to the sensitive nature of IT components they must generally be kept cool to avoid the risk of overheating and subsequent damage. Equipment safety is normally ensured in these facilities using approaches such as air conditioning; however such systems can be problematic. One of the main problems reported regarding air conditioning, apart from the high running costs, is the fact that if multiple air conditioners aren’t correctly installed they can conflict with each other, and consequently run ineffectively. The economizer mode on air conditioners is also often disabled, leading to further energy waste (The Green Grid, 2007).

Cooling Methods

Numerous other cooling methods such as close-coupled cooling, close-coupled liquid cooling, chillers, airflow management, high density cooling, vented floor tiles and many others are also currently used to cool data centers. The Green Grid (2007) however, argues that climate data from various areas throughout the US shows the potential for environmentally friendly free air cooling, or the use of outside air to cool systems. It is thought that this form of cooling would be viable up to about 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius).

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in comparison, recently released their recommendations for data center cooling regarding temperature and humidity ranges. The recommended safe range for IT equipment was 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) to 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) with 60 percent relative humidity. This conflicts with The Green Grid’s (2007) findings and indicates that current IT components may be at risk if free cooled in conditions exceeding 80.6 degrees.

IT Components

Various free air cooled establishments in areas with milder weather have so far however, experienced great success. It can therefore be put forward that this form of cooling is extremely suitable in a climate that allows for the IT components to remain within a safe temperature and humidity range. This form of cooling could also be coupled with Power services for data centers and other, more conventional manners of cooling to allow for energy savings during the milder part of the year and other less energy efficient forms during the warmer times.