How are data centres adapting to be more eco-friendly?
Fri 27 Sep 2019 | Michael Akinla
Panduit EMEA’s Michael Akinla explores the latest eco-friendly innovations entering the data centre
In an environment where consumption of all things appears to be heading skywards, data use, bandwidth and storage requirements are right on trend. With levels of data creation and use now surpassing zettabytes volumes per year, the data centre technology suites that facilitate this compute power need to be carefully controlled.
From the standpoint of an infrastructure supplier, today’s discussions with data centre operators and corporate end users, with owned data centre capability, are framed around increased bandwidth, reduced latency and energy concerns including lower power usage and effective climate control to optimise the compute environment.
Data centre operators are adapting to a mostly a western world view, that data centres consume massive amounts of energy and need to be accountable and seen to be operating in a responsible manner.
With the mass of experience now available in the industry, data centres can be designed to take advantage of the specific region’s climate, so for example in, northern Europe, data centres can operate ‘free-cooling’ of the IT load, which massively reduces the total energy used in the facility.
There is also a trend, driven by hyperscale design, towards solid floor technology suites, which again reduce overall complexity and allows cooled air to be channelled across the space into Hot Aisle Containment (HAC) pods. These cabinets are designed to effectively draw cool air through the racks, across the hot equipment, and then expel the hot exhaust air into the ceiling void to be recirculated and cooled once again. These HAC cabinets such as Panduit’s Net-Contain universal aisle containment system, ensure hot and cool air remain separated and do not mix and contaminate the input flow, which could interrupt the airflow and raise the operating temperature.
Using refrigerated cooling systems to maintain the IT Load will certainly require higher energy use, and therefore increase capital cost and operational cost. Often refrigerated cooling systems requires more energy to operate than the technology space compute equipment it is serving. Therefore implementing cabinet and infrastructure that provides for cool air/hot-air separation will allow higher temperature operational technology space operation and can result in lower overall energy use.
This approach aligns with ASHRAE TC9.9 recommendations which specify higher equipment operating temperatures, whilst remaining within the manufacturers’ warranty specifications, and also reducing energy use.
Advances in computation flow dynamics (CFD) in the design of technology suites greatly assists layout and management. Developments in server, storage, switch and infrastructure technology, including cabling and racks, together with intelligent monitoring systems and millions of hours of facility analysis allows energy efficient systems to dramatically reduce operational expenditure.
New technologies benefit the operator and user with less energy use and higher performance solutions. This also offers the operator and customers the cachet of sustainability, low PUE and increased eco-friendliness.