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New strategies evolving to keep data centers cool

By Donna Donowitz
January 28, 2011
A recent report from IT Business Edge said the advent of blade servers and the growing trend toward server virtualization is forcing data centers to consume significantly more power than they were designed for.

Citing a report, IT Business Edge said many data centers were originally designed to handle 3 or 4 kW per square foot. Now, the report said data centers are often forced to handle at least up to 25 kW per square foot.

As a result, the IT Business Edge report said data centers are adopting new methods to stay cool while operating under power distribution conditions that generate significantly more heat than anticipated.

One of the new techniques to deal with growing heat concerns involves designing hardware impervious to temperature changes. A recent patent explores this avenue, developing components to slow clock speeds, data throughput and voltages automatically. There are currently 80 techniques included in the patent to regulate devices and design them with built-in controls to deal with hot temperatures.

Another new technology comes from the Eaton Corporation, which has become distinguished as an energy management specialist. The company recently purchased Wright Line, and used the acquisition to develop a new data center exhaust system. The Heat Containment System is capable of being formed into almost any space, drawing thermal energy directly away from the server rack. As a result, the IT Business Edge report said the device is capable of reducing power costs by approximately 30 percent.

The report said the current focus in data centers is on finding ways to reduce heat so hardware can run at optimal effectiveness. However, there are other parts of the facility that could benefit from the excess heat generated by the servers. As a result, long-term heating solutions could involve routing excess heat throughout the data center.

Microsoft is currently working on a state-of-the-art modular data center that may offer a partial solution to the growing demand placed on data centers. While the Quincy, Washington, facility is not focused on heat control, it does offer unique systems for dealing with increasing data processing and virtualization demands. The data center has been constructed with a modular design, allowing Microsoft to add and remove server racks flexibly within the facility when new needs arise.


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