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equipment. By containing the cooling air flowsand directing it where it is most needed, muchhigher efficiencies can be obtained. The use of hot and cold aisles makes this possible
doesn’t necessarily require large investment in
the technology.In many cases, it is possible to take existing racksand use polycarbonate sheeting over the aisleswith plastic doors at the end of the rows to createa sufficiently contained environment to bring thevolume needed to be temperature controlleddown by an order of magnitude.If the racks have been redesigned to ensure thatthere are fewer hot spots, the use of blankingplates and flow-direction plates can ensure thatcooling air is directed exactly where it is mostneeded, lowering the ACR and saving furtherenergy. This is where computation fluid dynamics(CFD) comes in useful. Being able to map air
flows and to carry out “what
enables air flows to be optimised to ensure thatcooling air hits the hotter areas of IT equipmenteffectively, and that cooling air is not wasted byflowing over other areas. CFD software isincreasingly included in data centre infrastructuremanagement (DCIM) suites from the likes of nlyte, Emerson Network Power, Eaton and others.Further savings can be made by reassessing thethermal envelope in which the data centre works.The American Society of Heating, Refrigerationand Air conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) provideguidelines on best practice for data centre thermaloperation, and these guidelines have beenchanging over the past few years.
riginal 2004 guidelines aimed for amaximum allowable temperature of around 25°C.By 2008, this had risen to around 27°C.
ASHRAE’s 2011 guidelines created a range of
different approaches depending on type of datacentre and acceptable equipment failure rates,but moved the upper acceptable temperature ashigh as 45°C for less controlled environments,with more controlled data centre environmentsbeing able to be run at 35°C.At these temperatures, the amount of airmechanically cooled through the use of computerroom air conditioning (CRAC) units is massivelyreduced. In many cases, the need for CRAC unitsis completely obviated, and free air cooling can beused instead.The cost of CRAC units should not beunderestimated. A measure of the overall energyeffectiveness of a data centre is power utilisationeffectiveness (PUE). This is a number derived bytaking the total energy used by a data centre anddividing it by the amount of energy used for
enabling a “useful” workload –
that is, the energythat is provided to the IT equipment within thedata centre. For many existing data centres, thePUE will be between 2 and 2.5
for every Watt of energy provided to the IT equipment, between 1and 1.5 Watts of energy is used in peripheralequipment
on the whole, lighting,uninterruptable power supplies (UPSs) andcooling. Lighting is a small part of this, and a
modern data centre should be run in a “lights out”
status anyway. A modern UPS should be greaterthan 95% energy efficient (many are now 98%+energy efficient), leaving the cooling system asthe biggest energy drain for calculating PUE. If the CRAC units can be decommissioned andreplaced with free air cooling, or with lowerenergy systems such as adiabatic cooling, the
data centre’s PUE will improve dramatically –
andthe energy requirements for the data centreoverall will fall.For example, if an existing facility has a PUE of 2.5 and through the use of advanced coolingdesign it can drop to 1.5, 40% of the total energyused by the data centre can be saved.Although the green data centre is probably not at
the top of anyone’s priority list at the moment,
energy optimisation probably is. Through a fewrelatively simple steps such as those above, a stepchange in data centre energy usage can begained. Through saving tens of percentage pointson the data centre energy cost, the business willgain. Further, not only will it be able to show thissaving directly against the bottom line, but it willalso be able to use the saving to put the tick-markin the green and sustainable boxes in its corporateresponsibility statement (CSR).
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