Apr 302014

I have no experience with data centers and ‘Mission Critical’ HVAC systems, but the topic combines three things I’m interested in: Computers, HVAC, and Systems. When I was just a kid I spent a week at Control Data Corp. in Minneapolis. During one of the hottest weeks of the year, my mentor taught me programing. There was no air conditioning at home but in the equipment rooms it was 68 degrees. You almost had to wear a sweater.

Jump forward forty years, and the equipment rooms are jam packed with servers. The cooling load is larger than the equipment load, and they’re cooling 365 days a year, even when it’s -20 degrees outside. Some brave souls are starting to think twice about how they cool their servers. Companies like Google and Facebook have so much invested in their server farms, that any savings translate into millions of dollars.

Kevin Dickens, P.E. in the April 2014 Engineered Systems looks at opencompute.org and their Open Compute Data Center Mechanical Specifications. Open Compute Project is an open source consortium of data centers and equipment manufacturers and interested partners including Facebook. Dickens muses on were all this experimenting has taken us and where it might lead.

For most of us, change has to be incremental. Our risk model does not allow us to step too far outside of our, our management’s, or our client’s comfort zones. But when we can learn from those on the bleeding edge, we should have the courage to step out onto the leading edge. We do that not by stepping out of our comfort zone but by educating ourselves and expanding it instead.

Who doesn’t love a good Psychrometric Chart.

Nov 302008

We have never worked on a Data Center project but the topic interests me. I love computers, the Internet and Energy Savings. A Data Center is at the center of all three. [Note this entry has been update a couple times, see ‘Additional Resources’ for more information.]

Although we haven’t work on Data Centers our partner Xcel Energy has. As a utility they have many resources available including a Data Center Efficiency program. Follow the link or call 1-800-481-4700 for more information. Note: be sure to select a state or else the link won’t work properly- I know Minnesota works.

There is a very good overview of the topic in the November 2008 Issue of ASHRAE Journal.  The authors look at the entire system and identify ten energy saving strategies:

  1. Lower power processors *
  2. High-efficiency power supplies **
  3. Power management features
  4. Blade servers
  5. Server virtualization
  6. 415V AC power distribution
  7. Cooling Best Practices
  8. Variable Capacity Cooling and Variable Speed Drives.
  9. Supplemental Cooling
  10. Monitoring and optimization: Cooling units work as a team

*AnandTech Low Power CPU Shootout.

** I’ve often wondered if there would be some savings bringing in 12 VDC and 5VDC power to the servers and putting all the power supplies a  separate area.

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