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Earth Hardware IT

Green Grid Argues That Data Centers Can Lose the Chillers 56

Nerval's Lobster writes "The Green Grid, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making IT infrastructures and data centers more energy-efficient, is making the case that data center operators are operating their facilities in too conservative a fashion. Rather than rely on mechanical chillers, it argues in a new white paper (PDF), data centers can reduce power consumption via a higher inlet temperature of 20 degrees C. Green Grid originally recommended that data center operators build to the ASHRAE A2 specifications: 10 to 35 degrees C (dry-bulb temperature) and between 20 to 80 percent humidity. But the paper also presented data that a range of between 20 and 35 degrees C was acceptable. Data centers have traditionally included chillers, mechanical cooling devices designed to lower the inlet temperature. Cooling the air, according to what the paper originally called anecdotal evidence, lowered the number of server failures that a data center experienced each year. But chilling the air also added additional costs, and PUE numbers would go up as a result."
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Green Grid Argues That Data Centers Can Lose the Chillers

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  • Re:Too hot. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 26, 2012 @06:38PM (#41784101)

    They aren't going to die of heatstroke in 95 degrees. Drama queen much?

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Friday October 26, 2012 @06:40PM (#41784123)

    I've been an operator and sysadmin for many years now, and I've seen this experiment done involuntarily a lot of times, in several different data centers. Trust me, even if you accept 35 C, the temperature goes well beyond that in a big hurry when the chillers cut out.

  • by Miamicanes (730264) on Friday October 26, 2012 @06:41PM (#41784145)

    Heat is death to computer hardware. Maybe not instantly, but it definitely causes premature failure. Just look at electrolytic capacitors, to name one painfully obvious component that fails with horrifying regularity in modern hardware. Fifteen years ago, capacitors were made with bogus electrolyte and failed prematurely. Some apparently still do, but the bigger problem NOW is that lots of items are built with nominally-good electrolytic capacitors that fail within a few months, precisely when their official datasheet says they will. A given electrolytic capacitor might have a design half-life of 3-5 years at temperatures of X degrees, but be expected to have 50/50 odds of failing at any time after 6-9 months when used at temperates at or exceeding X+20 degrees. Guess what temperature modern hardware (especially cheap hardware with every possible component cost reduced by value engineering) operates at? X+Y, where Y >= 20.

    Heat also does nasty things to semiconductors. A modern integrated circuit often has transistors whose junctions are literally just a few atoms wide (18 is the number I've seen tossed around a lot). In durability terms, ICs from the 1980s were metaphorically constructed from the paper used to make brown paper shopping bags, and 21st-century semiconductors are made from a single layer of 2-ply toilet paper that's also wet, has holes punched into it, and is held under tension. Heat stresses these already-stressed semiconductors out even more, and like electrolytic capacitors, it causes them to begin failing in months rather than years.

"Once they go up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department." -- Werner von Braun

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