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BLOG: Be green with higher ambient temperature

Kenny Sng | Aug. 5, 2011
Data centres are over-cooled. Clearly, a paradigm shift is needed.

Measure the CRAC supply and return temperature; equipment inlet and outlet temperature; under the raised floor and ceiling plenum temperature and air pressure. Use a CFD tool to perform an analysis prior to re-calibrating the room. Your building management systems should be measuring key vital signs to ensure the CRAC, cooling loop supply and return temperature before and after the change.  This should be well-documented and in line with your cooling equipment specifications.

What are the rewards?

To demonstrate the rewards, we describe a 2 MW IT load data centre - a model which closely parallels similar customer setup. For 21 deg C operations, the total annual power consumption is assessed at 19.6 GWh, power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.60 and infrastructure overhead energy of 7.39 GWh.

When the operating temperature is raised to 27 deg C, overhead energy is reduced by 23 percent. There are greater advantages when an economiser is setup; there will be a 37 percent  savings in overhead infrastructure energy and PUE is reached at 1.38. Assuming a power cost of $0.08 per KWh, this translates to a conservative $212,000, which is no small change, and a carbon footprint reduction of 1,280 tonnes. All this can be accomplished with zero impact on applications.

This also adheres to the operations guidelines of 2008 which sets the operating temperature range at 18 deg C to 27 deg C. Can the temperature be set higher? Absolutely! That is why ASHRAE designed Class A1, Class A2, Class A3 and Class A4 with their ASHRAE 2011 DC white-paper which moves the data centre into 40 deg C high ambient operations. This will be a topic, fuelling a future discussion.

For many enterprises, there is a renewed interest in setting up a solid and efficient cloud infrastructure that runs like a utility - always available. This means setting up the private cloud, proper sizing and hosting the applications in the appropriate data centre.   

For cloud hosting providers, there is a need to provide high uptime with a reasonable cost structure.  Operate your data centre right, and the savings will flow to your bottom line. A 1 deg C increase in operating temperature can translate to 4 percent savings in chiller power. Run the data centre efficiently, and your business will enjoy a competitive edge. 

Getting the infrastructure right is critical for ensuring customer confidence in the cloud. This will have a multiplier effect, as customers often sign up with providers based on recommendations.    Many customers are keen to sign up with hosting providers who are leaders in stewarding sustainability.  Being green is not a choice; it is a mandate and makes sound business sense.

Kenny Sng is enterprise solution architect for Intel Technology Asia.



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