Hotter Data Center to Save Power
It's been quite mediatized in the past few years that data centers use a lot of power, a good portion of which is used to cool them down. New technologies are being used to save power, including consolidation and virtualization of servers and fancy sensors, but sometimes the low-tech approach works best: Simply raise the thermostat. That's what Google is doing.
Read on for more details.
Notice the solar panels on the roof of the Googleplex.
Google: Raise Your Data Center Temperature
Erik Teetzel, an Energy Program Manager at Google, said:
"The guidance we give to data center operators is to raise the thermostat. Many data centers operate at 70 degrees or below. We'd recommend looking at going to 80 degrees."
Most data centers operate in a temperature range between 68 and 72 degrees, and some are as cold as 55 degrees. Savings can be calculated with this rule of thumb (according to Mark Monroe of Sun Microsystems): "Data center managers can save 4 percent in energy costs for every degree of upward change".
So going from 70 degrees to 80 degrees could, in theory, mean a 40% saving in cooling energy costs (though real-world results might vary from place to place).
Of course, there are downsides to increasing the temps. If there's a cooling failure, you have less time to recover before the equipment is damaged. But there are technical solutions to this, such as making cooling systems more robust and having better sensors to detect problems early.
Questions Accepted Beliefs about Data Center Cooling
Even more interesting is this study by Intel:
Intel recently conducted a 10-month test to evaluate the impact of using only outside air (also known as air-side economization) to cool a high-density data center in New Mexico, where the temperature ranged from 64 degrees to as high as 92 degrees. Intel said it found "no consistent increase" in failure rates due to the greater variation in temperature and humidity. "This suggests that existing assumptions about the need to closely regulate these factors bear further scrutiny," Intel concluded.
One thing is certain, high energy costs are changing the data center world and making it more efficient and greener. Not a moment too soon.