The Cooling and Power of The Data Centre

It is essential that Data Centres have tight environmental controls and take in massive amounts of power to keep all equipment running – these factors are costly. Since equipment such as servers do not work very well in extreme temperatures, most data centres have huge cooling and air flow systems that consume massive amounts of power and water. Sensors are in place to monitor the environmental conditions of the Data Centre, so adjustments and precautions can be made.

Racks of servers are often arranged in rows that create aisles where the servers are either all opposite each other or facing away to control air flow and temperature more efficiently. Power consumption is another major concern. It is very important that these facilities have constant access to steady power – in some cases they have their own power substations. A metric used to judge a Data Centre’s efficiency is called a ‘Power Usage Effectiveness’ – PUE for short.

This is the calculation of the total energy used divided by energy used purely for computation purposes. To help PUE lots of actions are carried out to reduce a Data Centre’s power. Server rooms used to be kept around 60 degrees (15.6 Celsius) but the modern more energy efficient trend is now to keep them around 80 degrees (26.7 Celsius) – if anything cooler although not everyone has adopted this practice and new standard.

The last decade trend to use open air cooling - drawing air from outside rather than running lots of power-hungry air-conditioning units and chillers. Another decade trend to note is locating Data Centres near water sources that be recycled and used for cooling. An example of this is Google’s Data Centre in Finland which uses seawater.

Changes in the equipment can also help – many components in Data Centres wastes a lot of energy. Replacing older servers with more modern and energy efficient models will help. Some Data Centre equipment is designed in some cases to require less power. Most Data Centres use traditional shelf servers and other equipment. However, Google for example use customised servers – their Data Centre was designed to leave off unnecessary components like graphic cards and to minimize power loss at the power supply and voltage regulator.

On top of this, processors and fans can also be made to slow down when they are not being used. More efficient servers are designed to waste less heat – this also reduces the power consumption for cooling. Usage of applications fluctuates depending on what is being done at a certain time on various applications and software – any of which has different needs. Application resource management is very important for increasing efficiency and reducing the consumption in a Data Centre. Software can also be written to work more efficiency with the Data Centre Infrastructure. Server virtualisation can also cut down on power consumption by cutting down on the number of running servers.  

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