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FCW : August 15, 2014
Pulkit Grover, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, said the power drain will continue to increase. He cited studies by Belgium s Ghent University that predict ICT will consume 15 percent of the world s energy by 2020. Increasingly power-dense data center racks contribute to the situation. High-density computing generates more heat and, naturally, requires more cooling. Tony Evans, director of the government sales team in Schneider Electric s IT division, said the ongoing Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative is creating data centers that pack more computing punch in a smaller footprint but require more electric- ity than lower-density environments. Federal legislation is beginning to target this area. In March, the House passed the Energy Ef ciency Improvement Act (H.R. 2126), which, among other things, calls for feder- al agencies to increase the energy ef ciency of the data centers they operate. The Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, meanwhile, tasks federal CIOs with creating data center optimiza- tion plans that take into account energy use. The House passed that bill in February. The fundamentals ASHRAE, a global organization cred- ited with establishing de facto ther- mal standards for data centers, has raised the climate threshold for such facilities. Although temperatures around 68 degrees Fahrenheit were once the norm, ASHRAE s recom- mended temperature range for data center gear now goes to 80.6 degrees, and the top "allow- able" temperature for enterprise servers and storage is 89.6 degrees. The recommended humidity range goes as high as 60 percent, and the allowable range goes as high as 80 percent for enterprise servers and storage. "If you walk into a data center and it s cold, there is typi- cally an ef ciency opportunity there," Tschudi said. "You don t need to have it be a meat locker." He added that the shift in guidance has opened up new opportunities for cooling methods. Progressive organizations are already taking advantage of the change, and Tschudi s group is spreading the word to data center operators who are not yet aware of the thermal recommendations. Liquid cooling methods are among the approaches get- ting more exposure in the new environment. For years, traditional air conditioning systems have worked in conjunc- tion with water-based chillers to beat the heat in computer rooms. But recent developments give water a more direct role in replacing or supplementing air conditioning. Tschudi said his group has worked with the Maui High Performance Computing Center, an Air Force Research Laboratory center managed by the University of Hawaii where water-cooled sys- tems have eliminated the need for compressor-based cooling. The Maui approach is referred to as direct water cooling. Evaporative cooling, sometimes called free cooling, involves the installation of external towers that use outdoor air to cool water that circulates back into the data center to remove the heat from computing gear. Although water effectively removes heat and conserves energy, it can be a scarce resource. Some cooling systems use wastewa- ter instead of the potable variety. According to the Baltimore Sun, the National Security Agency plans to use treated wastewater supplied by Howard County, Md., to cool a data center scheduled to open in 2016. "This project will deliver a long- term source of high-quality makeup water for the agency s cooling towers in lieu of using Fort Meade domestic drinking water," an NSA spokesman said. Makeup water is used to replace water lost during evaporation. "Reclaimed water, which is highly treated ef uent, will be pumped to the agency cooling towers to replace the condenser water that is lost through evaporation, which occurs because they are located outside and are open to the atmosphere," the spokesman said. "The cooling tower is an integral part of the chiller plant system, which produces the chilled water for cooling the data centers and buildings." Nevertheless, Tschudi said water-based cooling is not a August 15, 2014 FCW.COM 27 DATA CENTER TEMPERATURE RANGE BY THE NUMBERS 80.6 degrees ASHRAE's recommended temperature range for data center gear, but 89.6 degrees is the top "allowable" temperature for enterprise servers and storage. 60% / 80% the recommended humidity level and the allowable level for enterprise servers and storage, respectively.
July 30, 2014
August 30, 2014