Storing, moving, processing, and analyzing data all require tremendous amounts of energy. Efficient data center cooling is therefore a critical component of greening these energy-intensive sites. So what are the best ways to optimize data center cooling?
- Make humidification adjustments
Generally speaking, IT equipment can tolerate wider ranges of humidity than previously thought. Until very recently, most data centers kept humidity between 45 and 50% relative humidity (RH). The concern was that low humidity could lead to electrostatic discharge (ESD) failures, and that high humidity could cause water droplets to condense inside equipment.
However, improved humidity tolerances in equipment have resulted in ASHRAE relaxing its recommended humidity ranges. ASHRAE’s recommended data center humidity ranges are:
- Lower limit: 42 degrees F dew point
- Upper limit: 59 degree F dew point and 60% relative humidity (regardless of temperatures
- Install In-rack or In-row Cooling:
In a room-based setup, computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units push chilled air into a data center and around the equipment to prevent sensitive electronic equipment from overheating.
With a row-oriented cooling architecture, or in-rack systems, each CRAC unit is dedicated to cooling one row of server racks. Compared with the room-based cooling, airflow paths are shorter, reducing the CRAC fan power required to send air to the equipment which vastly improves efficiency.
In-row and in-rack cooling systems can have higher capital costs than room-based cooling systems. However, row-based cooling systems use less electricity than across all server rack densities because the cooling units are located closer to the IT loads and unnecessary air flow is avoided. This can save more than 50% of fan power consumption compared with room-based cooling systems.
- Utilize Instrumentation Sensors
Sensors for instrumentation (temperature, input power, utilization, air inlet temperatures, etc.) help monitor the data center and spot problems that need to be addressed. Furthermore, such environmental instrumentation can send alerts when safe operating temperatures are likely to be exceeded so that cooling loads can be adjusted in response.
Some equipment monitoring systems can provide remote monitoring and management of cooling units, making cooling adjustments automatically in response to these fluctuating heat loads. This not only extends the life of plant equipment but dramatically lowers the cost of data center cooling.
- Matching Cooling to Heat Load
The most efficient data center cooling systems provide just enough cooling to match the load, but this can be a major challenge because cooling units are sized for peak demand, which rarely occurs. The challenge can be addressed, however, using intelligent cooling controls. With appropriate instrumentation in place, these controls can monitor and quickly adjust cooling capacity and airflow based on actual conditions in the data center. tekWorx Xpress® data center solutions optimize plant cooling equipment by operating with actual data center conditions, not predicted conditions, with no downtime or disruption.