According to Computerworld, Japanese electronics company NEC is using convection, created by the difference between the heat created by servers and the outside air, to help cool a modular data centre.
Actually there’s nothing new here. What the company is doing is using more innovative techniques in generating air flow helped by new standards published by ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning.
Most data centres in Japan conform to ASHRAE standards, which were first published in 2004 and specified a server and storage operating environment of between 20 C and 25 C and 40% to 50% humidity. But this year the limits were expanded to between 15 C and 32 C and 20% to 80% humidity.
The difference is particularly significant in Japan, where under the previous ASHRAE criteria only a very small proportion of locations and weather combinations would allow for this sort of cooling. But NEC believes that tightly controlled convection technology will enable the use of outside air in cooling for over 60% of the year in a variety of urban and rural locations in Japan.
Review: It just goes to show that relatively minor changes in standards and technology can make a big difference in power consumption in some places. In this case, being more realistic about server temperatures combined with increasing innovation in cooling techniques cuts a big chuck out of power use in Japan.
There must be many similar ways in which IT operations can be adjusted to accommodate more low power operations. It may get harder as we go along, and some innovations won’t have worldwide applications, but there’s always more that can be done, and it generally saves money as well.
While on the subject of data centre cooling, Google has given an insight into the evaporative cooling it uses in its data centres in its green blog – you can read more here.