Google's St. Ghislain, Belgium data center has made news before for running without the use of any chillers, the biggest energy-hogs in a data center. The data center uses fresh air cooling for its server areas and, up until recently, was allowing them to run at temperatures up to 80 degrees F, sending traffic to other facilities to be processed when it got too hot, but now the tech giant is pushing the boundaries of how efficient a chiller-free data center can be by running the servers at temperatures up to 95 degrees.
Most data centers are kept at temperatures between 68 and 72 degrees because it's believed that the equipment won't operate as well in higher temperatures, but it turns out that's a bit of a myth, and an energy-intensive one at that. Keeping server rooms cool with the equipment constantly cranking out heat requires a lot of electricity and it's been calculated that data center operators can save 4 percent in energy costs for every upward degree. Here's a video from Google explaining the benefits when they were running at 80 degrees.
Google isn't the only one to catch on that servers can run in hot environments and do just fine, Dell just recently certified their servers for up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit and a few years back, a study by Intel found no increase in server failures at its fresh air cooled data center in New Mexico where temps hit 92 degrees.
At the St. Ghislain data center, now considered the company's most efficient, the machines power through the heat better than humans. Joe Kava, Senior Director of Data Center Operations for Google said, “We’ve had very few excursion hours, and they don’t last long, so we let the site run right through them. We ask our employees to go in and do office work. It’s too warm for people, but the machines do just fine.”
Tech companies are constantly trying to come up with the most efficient cooling methods for their data centers, but Google is proving that most data centers may do best by turning up the heat instead.