There are a lot of them around, Data Centres. A few of them are designed and operated very well and deliver great Power Usage Efficiency. Some could do a bit better, perhaps an airside economiser or two, or some hot or cold aisle containment, or maybe some DC power. Some are just a nightmare and could benefit from the administration of a wrecking ball. For some data centres, it seems that no amount of fixing them up, improving plant and applying best practice will make any measurable difference. Let’s call them clunker data centres! (Maybe we can get the Government to do a cash for clunkers program for data centres?)
A clunker starts off with a ceiling height that is too low for hot air to separate out and migrate towards the CRAC units without too much mixing. The plenum under the raised floor is shallow and clogged up with cables and other detritus choking off airflow from the CRACs. The floor tiles are perforated and have low airflow characteristics. The cabinets are all lined up like a schoolroom. front to back to front to back…. You could cook turkeys in the back row. The CRAC units are low capacity and that capacity is exhausted. Naturally the boss wants you to install some 10KW racks in a hurry for a critical business project.
What can you do? Say “no way”? Offer a co-location option in a commercial facility as an option? Start looking for a new job?
I bumped into a possible solution a few days back on Twitter when I connected with Mary Hecht-Kissell (@PR_Strategies) who looks after Coolcentric. The problem set, defined above, that makes a clunker data centre is all about getting enough cold into servers to remove the excess heat. Every element in the clunker conspires to make delivering more cold air virtually impossible. That’s where the coolcentric solution makes a difference. It delivers cold water right up against the servers. It adds additional cooling capacity that enables that set of additional 10KW (or more) racks to be installed in a data centre that seemed like a lost cause. It’s a fairly simple piece of technology, that has been well engineered to be retrofitted to most types of existing cabinets. It’s a water cooled door.
The water cooled door is fitted onto the back of the rack so that the hot air exhausting out of the cabinet gets chilled immediately and very efficiently. Liquids are about 4000 times more efficient at removing heat from a server than air, so these water cooled doors can remove significantly more heat with very low pumping energy.
One smart way to think about it is that the water cooled door acts like a mini, contained hot aisle for environments (like our clunker data centre) where cabinet alignment, roof height and plenum problems make hot aisle containment impossible.
Sounds like a pretty decent alternate to Semtex!