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  • January 12, 2019 09:07:09 AM
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The Server Room Environments blog provides information on the design, installation and maintenance of solutions within server rooms and datacentre IT environments including cooling, power, energy efficiency, monitoring, security and fire suppression systems as well as air conditioners, server racks and cabinets, UPS systems, PDUs and standby power generators.

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  • Annual Regular Membership: 1 Year Term 2020-01-12 14:07:09 (295 days left)
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    Lithium-Ion UPS Systems For Datacentre Applications

    The UPS system or uninterruptible power supply that we know today evolved from the oil industry and its need for backup power protection for computer operations in the 1960s. Today’s UPS systems provide a similar solution, but the world of backup power has changed dramatically since that period driven by a host of factors and [...] The post Lithium-Ion UPS Systems For Datacentre Applications appeared first on Server Room...

    The UPS system or uninterruptible power supply that we know today evolved from the oil industry and its need for backup power protection for computer operations in the 1960s. Today’s UPS systems provide a similar solution, but the world of backup power has changed dramatically since that period driven by a host of factors and technological developments.

    Datacentre Backup Power

    In the 1980s and 1990s computer and IT network adoption were two of the biggest drivers for development of the UPS and generator industries. These markets continue to evolve and one of the biggest drivers of the moment is their use within datacentre applications.

    Datacentres provide a managed and secure environment in which to run IT servers. Datacentres can be classified as enterprise or co-location. Enterprise datacentres are own, managed and operated by and for the use of a single organisation. Co-location or Colo datacentres rent out space, racks and servers to their clients.

    Virtualisation and Cloud computing continue to fuel datacentre market development as does the need for greater storage of information and its analysis. Whether the data is captured through Industry 4.0 or Internet of Things (IoT) applications, CCTV and access control security systems, general office applications or social media, it must be stored somewhere and with facilities that provide 24/7 coverage and immediate access.

    Datacentre electricity usage is a growing concern for many operators and the countries they operate within. There is a continual drive to improve energy efficiency and reduce the demands placed on national grids by these large power generation users.

    UPS System Developments

    UPS manufacturers have continued to evolve their backup power technologies to meet the demands principally of the datacentre operators. UPS systems continue to push the boundaries of what can be achieved in terms of energy efficiency, compactness and modularity. Many UPS manufacturers can now achieve operating efficiencies of greater than 96.5% in full on-line operating mode with 97% close to becoming the next standard benchmark. 99% is also possible for systems that can run in full eco-mode. Modular UPS systems, once a niche product and now growing in popularity thanks to opportunities they provide for right-sizing and scalability in an UPS architecture that can grow both vertically and horizontally.

    Generators are often deployed alongside UPS systems in datacentre environments. In applications like this, the UPS provides protection when mains power is present, and a backup battery set to power through small power outages or at least until the standby power generator power up to speed. Generator manufacturers are evolving their backup power sets to become more environmentally friendly in terms of emissions (fumes and noise), efficiency (fuel burn) and the type of fuel they can be run with.

    UPS Batteries and Energy Storage Systems

    That aside, one of the most interesting developments for UPS systems is its energy storing battery set. In an uninterruptible power supply, the battery of choice has traditionally been a valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) type. This type of lead acid battery is most suited to a standby power application where it is called on infrequently to discharge either completely or to cover a generating set power up.

    New battery technologies including Lithium-ion (Li-ion) provide an alternative energy storage source and a range of new backup power configurations. This is because Lithium-ion batteries are more suited to fast charge/recharge cycles and are the choice for nearly all Local Energy Storage (LES) systems as well as electric vehicles and smart phones and tablets.

    When Li-ion batteries are installed with a UPS system, more potential applications open up. These run from use of the UPS system and its batteries to generate revenue through National Grid Demand Response type programmes to running the UPS system as a Virtual Power Plant (VPP). In the latter scenario, the UPS system Li-ion battery is charged overnight at the lowest cost electricity tariff and use during the day to power applications that would otherwise be running on higher tariff electricity supplies.

    For Co-location datacentres, UPS systems can generate extra revenue when given the secondary duty of supporting a national grid. The Eaton ‘UPS as a Reserve’ can be applied to legacy as well as new-build UPS installations, as reported in Mission Critical Power – https://missioncriticalpower.uk/eaton-reports-pilot-success-ups-reserve/.

    Edge Computing and The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

    Whilst the demand for datacentres continues to grow there are now new drivers pushing organisations to install more sophisticated on-site server rooms and network facilities. Edge computing is one aspect of this which couple with the Internet of Things and Industrial Internet will lead to a greater deployment of smaller backup power solutions on company premises. Without this, such organisations could lose the competitive edge that will be required to compete in the next decade through efficient data capture, storage, analysis and sharing on a 24/7 basis and from anywhere in the world.

    Renewable Power Generation and Grid Independency

    Energy storage system deployment is also rising rapidly coupled to a wider use of renewable power generation technologies including solar PV and wind turbine installations. Local energy storage systems allow companies and organisations to become more grid independent and to power their systems using energy generated renewably and then stored onsite in their own Lithium-ion energy storage solutions.

    Coupled to this is the rising use of electric vehicles, which themselves rely on Li-ion battery technologies and at some point, a grid connection for recharging. In the not-to-distant future we could well see the Li-ion batteries in the electric vehicles in a car park being used to support the grid and the operation of your local datacentre and server room facilities.

    The UPS specialists at Server Room Environments continue to develop innovative back-up power solutions working with our supply partners. If you would like to discuss your next UPS or enery storage project please contact us. We provide a free of charge UPS site survey.

    Are you interested in further information on lithium ion UPS systems for your data centre or server room? Speak to one of our project managers on 0800 030 6838 or email us a specification to review.

    The post Lithium-Ion UPS Systems For Datacentre Applications appeared first on Server Room Environments.


    How To Cool Server Racks and Datacentre Cabinets

    Heat is a form of ‘waste’ energy that results from the way the CPUs (central processing units) within a typical IT server work. In a server room or datacentre environment, managing ‘heat’ and keeping server racks cool is as critical an issue as ensuring the servers are protected from mains power supply failures. Excessive heat [...] The post How To Cool Server Racks and Datacentre Cabinets appeared first on Server Room...

    Heat is a form of ‘waste’ energy that results from the way the CPUs (central processing units) within a typical IT server work. In a server room or datacentre environment, managing ‘heat’ and keeping server racks cool is as critical an issue as ensuring the servers are protected from mains power supply failures. Excessive heat can age components and can lead to early system failures, erratic system operation and presents a potential fire risk both within a server cabinet and its local environment.

    Servers draw electrical power from their local supply, whether this is a power distribution unit, UPS system or mains power socket via an internal switch mode power supplies (SMPS). The SMPS converts the AC (alternating current) waveform of the supply, into the levels of DC (direct current) required to power internal circuits including the CPU(s).

    A CPU works by enabling electrical signals to pass through its microscopic transistors or by resisting (blocking) them. As the electrical (DC) energy passes through the CPU, heat builds up. The heat is dissipated into the surrounding environment. The more powerful the CPU, the greater the volume of heat generated. The greater the number of servers, the larger the amount of heat dissipated as the load utilisation increases on the servers. Within a confined space, such as a server rack, the heat build-up can be extensive and damaging if not managed and controlled. Whilst more energy efficient servers will use less energy to produce the same level of output, CPU performance continues to increase as do their power demands and potential heat generation. More powerful processors used for machine learning applications have higher power demands and generate even more heat.

    For server room and datacentre managers the amount of heat generated and dissipated within a room is rarely uniform and must be channelled and managed in order for an air conditioning or cooling system to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. Cooling and humidity management is necessary to protect critical systems and maintain their operational resilience.

    There are several aspects to consider when deciding on how best to cool an environment. For a server cabinet, the most appropriate level of cooling and ventilation will be dependent upon several factors:

    • The number of servers, switches and routers and their heat output
    • The heat output of additional systems within the cabinet (i.e. UPS systems)
    • The mechanical construction of the cabinet, perforations, size and space utilisation
    • The thermal characteristics of the cabinet in terms of ventilation
    • Cabinet arrangement and position within the room
    • Cabinet location (which could be outside a server room in an extreme environment)

    Server rating plates can be misleading when calculating the level of cooling required. The numbers shown generally the maximum power draws in Amps or Watts or Kilowatts. Use of these numbers can lead to an over-sizing whether it’s a cooling system or an uninterruptible power supply. The numbers can therefore only be used as a guide as to the level of cooling required.

    A more realised measurement for sizing a cooling system is to calculate the British Thermal Units (BTUs) which can be converted into Kilowatts as 1kW=3,412BTUs. The BTUs should be calculated for:

    • Equipment: the IT servers, switches and routers
    • Floor: the total floor area of the room
    • Windows: the number and their location
    • Occupants: the number of people working within the room
    • Lighting: the heat generated from room lighting

    Once all the factors have been assessed the total room BTU can be calculated:

    Total Heat Gain = Equipment + Floor + Window + Occupant + Lighting

    There are individual formulas for each of these types of calculation:

    • Equipment BTU = total watts x 3.5
    • Floor BTU = width x length
    • Windows BTU = 0 if there are no windows or if there are you need to factor in the number and whether they are north or south facing. The Windows BTU = South Windows (BTU) plus North Windows (BTU). For each window the following calculation applies:
      • South Window BTU = South Facing windows Length (m) x Width (m) x 870
      • North Window BTU = North Facing windows Length (m) x Width (m) x 165
    • Occupants = total number of occupants x 400
    • Lighting = total watts x 4.25

    The calculation will provide a good indication of the size of air conditioner or cooling system required for a small server room. Larger facilities and datacentres may also require thermodynamic modelling and the use of hot-aisle/cold-aisle containment arrangements.

    Server Rack Cabinet Cooling Options

    Adequate air flow is vital to ensuring that operational reliability if the critical servers inside a cabinet. The cooling and air flow must be good enough to prevent a build-up of heat (hot-spots) and to ensure that all components within the rack are suitably cooled no matter where they are placed (bottom, middle or top of the rack cabinet). This can be even more important consideration if UPS systems with valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries are installed into the rack as the batteries need an ambient temperature of 20-25˚C in order to stand a chance of reaching their optimal working life.

    So how can you ensure a good air flow and what do you need to consider?

    • Cabinet Front and Back doors: the majority of rack cabinet manufacturers recommend that front and back door with an open-air flow greater than 60%. Air is typically drawn in from the front door and expelled via the rear door. Doors should therefore be perforated or in extreme conditions removed. Solid side panels are recommended to channel the air-flow front to back and prevent heat exchange between adjacent cabinets. In server rooms and datacentres with adequately sized air conditioning, the cooling fans within the IT servers and other equipment may be sufficient enough to prevent a heat build-up and provide adequate air flow.
    • Cabinet Utilisation: a good rule of thumb is to only use 80% capacity as a maximum whether this loading on a UPS system or the amount of space used within a server cabinet. Where space within the cabinet allows, leave a 1U space between shelves and rows of systems and at least 5-10mm of clearance between the front and back of the cabinets to allow air-flow around the equipment. Blanking panels should be installed on the front to improve cool air-flow efficiency from front to rear.
    • Temperature Monitoring: there are several ways to monitor temperature and issue alerts and alarms within a server cabinet. The most common way is to use a thermometer, and this may be an additional accessories that can be connected to an smart or intelligent power distribution unit (PDU) or a standalone temperature, humidity and water leakage monitoring system. Either approach should generate an alarm if the temperature rises above a trigger point which should be audible, visual and electronic in the form of an email, text or SNMP-based alert. It may be necessary to have one or more temperature monitoring points within a larger cabinet. Many IT systems have internal temperature sensors and alarms from these should be captured and acted upon.

    Where additional cooling is required the choice then turns to what type of cooling method to use and these range from natural convection, to forced convection, active convection and free cooling.

    Natural Convection Cooling

    This form of cooling relies on the fact that heat will flow from a warmer environment to a cooler one. If the air around a server rack cabinet is cooler than the internal temperature, the heat within the cabinet will radiate naturally through the sides and doors and the internal temperature will reduce accordingly. Whilst this is a ‘free’ form of cooling it is not efficient, and its effectiveness is dependent upon the external temperature of the air outside the server cabinet. If the differential is not larger enough, little heat will flow from inside to outside the cabinet.

    Forced Convection Cooling

    A fan or blower fitted insider server rack, can force the air flow and decrease the thermal resistance barrier between the cabinet and its environment. The fans can be installed as top of cabinet assemblies or internal fan trays. The most and effective type of installation are top-mounted fan panels. Internal fan trays are generally used to tackle local hot-spots. Circulation volumes can be increased by adding more fans but a problem with this type of arrangement is air quality and the outside temperature. If the air is contaminated with dust, dirt, oil or moisture, then the fan air flow will lead to these building up on the fans and within the internal rack assembles. Where this is an issue, as in some industrial environments, a closed-loop air-to-air heat exchanger can provide a solution. As with natural convection, the overall flow of heat is dependent on the difference between the internal and external ambient temperatures.

    Active Convection Cooling: Air Based

    Air conditioning is a form of active convection cooling and the one most turned to when natural or convection cooling proves ineffective. There are several types of air conditioner available for server rooms and datacentres including wall mounted and ceiling suspended, in-row units and complete computer room air conditioners referred to as CRACs.

    Rather than cool a complete room it is also possible to build an air conditioning unit into a server cabinet. This configuration forms a closed-loop system (with an internal evaporator) and can be ideal for industrial or extreme environments where there is a danger of contamination from dirt and dust or moisture, water and other liquids. Closed-loop systems like this have a cost benefit in that they are more efficient as they are focused on cooling a single cabinet rather than an entire array of rows or a complete server room. For this type of cooling arrangement, it is vital that the air conditioner is accurately sized.

    For extreme environments the rack cabinet will also have an IP-rating higher than IP20 making it even more necessary for an air conditioner to be fitted to protect the heat-sensitive equipment inside.  The cabinet may also be a custom or bespoke design that is too a high degree sealed to allow operation in ambient temperatures up to 55˚C.

    Active Cooling: Liquid Based

    Liquid cooling is another form of forced active cooling. This type of system used a chilled liquid to cool the air within a cabinet, hot-aisle/cold-aisle arrangement or a complete data facility. Liquid cooled doors can be fitted to some server rack cabinets to provide an individual and custom solution. Liquid leakages are less of an issue with more modern systems thanks to self-healing systems.

    Free Air Cooling Solutions

    Free air cooling is a method for cooling large server rooms or datacentres and can be a suitable solution for sites with low external air temperatures. For this type of arrangement the low external temperatures are used to chill water which is then stored or used immediately for use with an internal air conditioning system. The solution is more suited to larger facilities rather than individual server racks and cabinets and can rely on adiabatic cooling processes.

    There are several options available when it comes to cooling server rack cabinets and datacentre facilities. There is no one solution that fits all installations. Some cooling systems and air conditioners can be installed relatively easily, and others may have a more complex installation and even require custom or bespoke elements.

    At Server Room Environments we supply, install and maintain a wide range of air conditioning solutions. Please contact us for a free site survey or to discuss your project, whether its an existing system upgrade or new cooling system installation.

    For information on recommended ambient temperatures for server rooms and datacentres refer to the ASHRAE white paper ‘Data Center Power Equipment Thermal Guidelines and Best Practices’ (http://tc0909.ashraetcs.org/documents/ashrae_tc0909_power_white_paper_22_june_2016_revised.pdf).

    Are you interested in further information on how to cool server racks in your data centre or server room? Speak to one of our project managers on 0800 030 6838 or email us a specification to review.

    The post How To Cool Server Racks and Datacentre Cabinets appeared first on Server Room Environments.


    Data Centre Cooling Solutions For Cloud To The Edge Sites

    The range of cooling solutions available for server room and datacentre operators continues to evolve and can be split into two types: active cooling (forced convection) and passive cooling (natural connection). Innovation is driven by how to affect the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly cooling systems as the actual power demands for IT servers [...] The post Data Centre Cooling Solutions For Cloud To The Edge Sites appeared first on Server Room...

    The range of cooling solutions available for server room and datacentre operators continues to evolve and can be split into two types: active cooling (forced convection) and passive cooling (natural connection). Innovation is driven by how to affect the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly cooling systems as the actual power demands for IT servers continue to increase.

    Server rack power demands are now typically within 10 to 30kW. The rise of Edge computing and distributed data centre architecture could well see this rise further, putting extra burden on the cooling arrangements for smaller to medium sized server rooms and datacentres, which may not have been initially designed to meet the latest operational requirements.

    Whilst it can be relatively easy to add additional cooling into network closets and computer rooms (principally with portable devices), cooling expansion needs to be a ‘day-one’ requirement for larger server rooms and datacentres. Expansion strategies should include a modular element at the overall room size and within define hot-aisle/cold-aisle and individual rack arrangements.

    The principle cooling solutions available for larger server rooms and datacentres include:

    • Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRACs)
    • Integrated cooling
    • In-row precision cooling
    • High density cooling

    Computer Room Air Conditioners

    This type of cooling is considered the more traditional approach and uses DX (Direct eXchange) air conditioners to flood the server room environment with cool air. The arrangement can include a single air conditioning unit (wall or suspended ceiling mounted) or multiple air conditioners installed around the room. The AC units are connected to external heat exchangers.

    Cool air is pumped into the room from the AC units. The arrangement can provide redundancy (N+X) but can be less energy efficient that one that is more closely targeted at the sources of the heat generation. However, a hot-aisle/cold-aisle arrangement of the server cabinets can help improve efficiency as can piping of the cool air into a central containment area in which the server cabinets are situated.

    Integrated Cooling Systems

    This cooling solution can be useful where there is space within the server cabinet to include cooling within it. The typical arrangement is to place a cooling unit in the base of the rack and to have top or rear door fans to draw the cool air through the servers and out of the back. The arrangement is almost a closed-loop and one that is thermally neutral to the room ambient outside the server rack environment.

    A typical AC unit size for this type of installation is 3-5kW. Server cabinet integrated cooling systems are ideal for small computer, network and server rooms and can be very energy efficient.

    In-row Precision Cooling

    In-row air conditioners are installed within the server cabinet row arrangement. In-row AC units can offer scalability and improved energy efficiency and more precision cooling. In-row cooling units are typically floor standing and situated at the end of a row of server cabinets.

    One of the principle benefits of prevision air cooling is their energy efficiency. The cool air provision and return heat paths are close to the in-row AC units. Cooling technologies can include refrigerants or chilled water. The fans within the AC units also speed controlled based on temperature and load requirements. The cost of the installation rises in proportion to the number of server rack rows in that additional electrical power and cooling system pipework must be installed and connection made to external heat exchangers and chillers.

    In-row air conditioners are suitable for both suspended and non-raised floors and are  typically agnostic in relation to the make of server rack cabinet or containment system. The modular arrangements provide scalability and redundancy (N+X) and power and pipe connections can be bottom or top entry. For maintenance the best position is at the end of a cabinet row, but they can also be placed within the centre as in-row units are designed for front and rear maintenance access.

    High Density Cooling

    This type of cooling solution is often used for high density server cabinet rows within a server room or datacentre. A high density closed-loop cooling arrangement is made using in-row cooling units. The method is suitable for racks drawing from 10-60kW of power.

    High density cooling solutions draw heat (hot air) from the rear of the servers in to the side of the cooling unit using high efficiency and temperature/load dependent fans. The hot air is cooled via an air-to-water heat exchanger and cold air is presented to the front of the servers. The typical AC unit size for an in-row solution is 10-30kW and the units my have 2-3 fans or more.

    High density cooling has several benefits. The use of intelligently controlled fans allows the in-row units to adapt to the server utilisation and operating environment. The units are relatively easy to install and maintain. Resilient installations are possible to allow concurrent maintenance and inspection. The cooling arrangement is also highly energy efficient.

    What does the future hold for data centre cooling?

    Aside from the above practices there are several emerging technologies involving liquid cooling. Complete datacentre submersion is one approach being tested by Microsoft (https://news.microsoft.com/features/under-the-sea-microsoft-tests-a-datacenter-thats-quick-to-deploy-could-provide-internet-connectivity-for-years/). At the other end of the scale there are liquid cooler server rack doors can be adopted where cooling fans are not a viable option.

    Adiabatic cooling is another alternative datacentre cooling solution that relies on reducing heat through a change in air pressure caused by air volume expansion. This type of cooling allows for free air cooling which is ultimately the most environmentally friendly available.

    For more information see the Server Room Environments range of air conditioners or request a free site survey.

    Are you interested in further information on how to cool data centre or server room Edge computing applications? Speak to one of our project managers on 0800 030 6838 or email a specification for us to review.

    The post Data Centre Cooling Solutions For Cloud To The Edge Sites appeared first on Server Room Environments.


    How to Choose PDUs For Server Racks

    Choosing the right power distribution units (PDUs) is a critical element when designing your power protection plan and server rack load management. But what is a PDU and which is the right type for your installation. A basic Power Distribution Unit or PDU is a strip of power sockets in a self-contained unit that may [...] The post How to Choose PDUs For Server Racks appeared first on Server Room...

    Choosing the right power distribution units (PDUs) is a critical element when designing your power protection plan and server rack load management. But what is a PDU and which is the right type for your installation.

    A basic Power Distribution Unit or PDU is a strip of power sockets in a self-contained unit that may be horizontally or vertically mounted and which provides power from a source to the loads connected to the power outlets.

    To fully understand the important of choosing the right PDUs for your server room or datacentre environment, it is important to understand the critical power path within the entire building. Power enters a building through a Point of Common Coupling (PPC) from the outside local electricity grid to the building’s LV switchboard. The switchgear will typically be a three-phase configuration from which power will be distributed through sub-distribution boards to supply building loads including critical, essential and non-essential systems.

    Critical loads are those required for the organisation within the building to operate and deliver its services and products. Within a server room or datacentre, the systems are IT and server related. The electrical supply to the server room or datacentre may come via an uninterruptible power supply or UPS systems may be installed within the room or server racks themselves. The PDUs therefore provide a common connection point to the output supply from the UPS systems. The PDUs may be plugged into the output socket(s) of the UPS or hardwired to the UPS or an external maintenance bypass switch.

    Types of Power Distribution Unit

    There are three generic types of power distribution unit which can be single or three phase and range in price and features from basic to metered to intelligent:

    • Basic PDUs: as the name suggest this is an entry-level basic PDU and is little more than a socket strip. The unit connects to its supply and provider power via output sockets or outlets. A built-in breaker provides overload protection. The power supplied to the sockets may have surge and spike protection.
    • Metered PDUs: this type of PDU includes a total power meter that monitors power consumption and can provide a range of data including energy usage (kWh), total load profile (kVA/kW/pF) and the voltage and frequency of the supply.
    • Intelligent or Smart PDUs: here smart monitoring and control features are built-into a metered PDU to open even more power and energy management information. Data will be available down to individual sockets/outlets (with up to ±1% accuracy) as will control allowing a datacentre or IT manger to power down or reboot a single socket using an TCP/IP SNMP connection. The PDU itself will incorporate an LDC that may be rotatable to suite a horizontal or vertical installation allowing local readings and alarm notifications.

    Where there is no budget constraint an intelligent PDU is always the preferred choice due to the greater monitoring and control functions they provide.

    Server Room and Datacentre Rack PDUs

    Within a datacentre environment intelligent PDUs are becoming the norm due to the amount of information they can provide. In a Colocation (Colo) datacentre the information provided allows for accurate client billing and load utilisation. In an Enterprise datacentre, the information gained from an intelligent PDU allows the datacentre manager to optimise space and rack usage, as well as tracking overall energy consumption.

    The more advanced intelligent PDUs can provide further enhancements including mass configuration and firmware updating from a central software management or Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) architecture.

    Working within any server cabinet can be fraught with danger. Access can be hampered by cables, bulky connection and oversized power distribution units. This can make it difficult to replace server fans and power supplies or add additional servers and IT equipment to the racks themselves.

    The latest intelligent PDUs for datacentre and server racks overcome this with a low form factor allowing easier access within confined spaces. The use of locking sockets and power cords prevents accidental disruption. The use of colour coded cables, plugs and outlets also provides easy server/load group identification.

    Most datacentre environments try to maintain a working ambient temperature of 20-25˚C. This provides a pleasant working environment and is ideal for UPS batteries installed within the data hall or server room area. PDUs can see a heat build-up and especially in the larger sized three-phase models. To prevent issues PDUs should be made from an aluminium-type material that can easily dissipate any heat build-up. This type of construction is also lightweight and rugged making installation and even relocation easier.

    In addition to monitoring power, PDUs can provide information on the local environment using plug-in options including ambient temperature monitors, humidity and water detection and even access control.

    Choosing the right power distribution units for your server room or datacentre server racks can have a large impact on overall load reliability, monitoring and control. The more intelligent the PDU itself, the greater it can contribute towards environmental, energy efficiency and management of the critical loads themselves.

    At Server Room Environments supply a wide range of power distribution units including single and three phase PDUs as well as a range of power cords (including locking) and additional accessories for environment monitoring and remote management.

    Are you interested in further information on how to select the right PDUs for your data centre or server room racks? Speak to one of our project managers on 0800 030 6838 or email a specification for us to review.

    The post How to Choose PDUs For Server Racks appeared first on Server Room Environments.


    The Rising Tide of Liquid Cooling Solutions for Datacentres

    Traditional air conditioners use a refrigerant gas and this type of closed-loop air-based cooling system is perfectly adequate for most for server rooms and small datacentres. However, as server rack power densities continue to increase due to machine learning applications, larger datacentres and hyperscale operators are turning to liquid cooling. Most datacentre operators don’t want [...] The post The Rising Tide of Liquid Cooling Solutions for Datacentres appeared first on Server Room...

    Traditional air conditioners use a refrigerant gas and this type of closed-loop air-based cooling system is perfectly adequate for most for server rooms and small datacentres. However, as server rack power densities continue to increase due to machine learning applications, larger datacentres and hyperscale operators are turning to liquid cooling.

    Most datacentre operators don’t want to disclose too much about their critical infrastructure arrangements as they are a source of their competitive advantage. However, some hyperscale cloud operators, have formed a working group for an open specification for liquid-cooled racks. These operators include Alphabet’s Google, Baidu, Facebook and Microsoft and one of the main uses for liquid cooling in their facilities will be for server racks housing IT systems and processors involved in machine learning.

    As Hyperscale technologies start to move from Cloud applications to the network Edge, applications for liquid cooling solutions will continue to rise with the principle drivers being:

    • Server processors and rack densities
    • Storage system cooling needs
    • Cooling Edge computer networks
    • Crypto currency mining and IoT applications
    • Power recovery and energy efficiency

    Server Processors and Rack Densities

    The amount of cooling required within a server room or datacentre application is directly proportional to the number of server processing units and their type.  Whilst CPU (Central Processing Unit) performance growth is slowing (based on Moore’s Law), newer processing technologies are rapidly being deployed.

    Graphic Processor Units (GPUs) are more powerful and are designed to accelerate graphics rendering and GPU-based servers are the most commonly used hardware accelerator at this moment in time. TPUs (Tensor Processing Units) are AI (Artificial Intelligence) Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) used by a hyperscale operator like Google, in its deep-learning project. Google’s TPUs are a direct-to-chip liquid cooling design.

    A GPU will typically need about 200W of cooling and this can rise to 1kW or more of cooling requirement when the GPU is coupled to a high-performance CPU. In a typical application this will see single server rack power draws of 10-30kW or higher. As more GPUs are added inside such a rack and power densities increase, liquid cooling becomes a more viable option with modular cooling options from 20kW plus and upwards.

    Storage System Cooling Needs

    It is not just servers that require cooling. Storage solutions and their power densities are also evolving at a rapid rate.

    Datacentres have traditionally used non-sealed hard drives that cannot be cooled except with air-based systems. Solid State Drives (SSDs) could offer an alternative solution and one that could be used with liquid or even complete immersion cooling solutions. Helium atmosphere Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) must be sealed by design and are another application for liquid-based cooling.

    Whilst most server rooms operate a mixture of local and Cloud based storage, liquid colling for storage systems is a viable solution for Cloud and hyperscale datacentres.

    Cooling Edge Computer Networks

    Edge computing is starting to become a mainstream consideration for service providers. Edge technology provides a way for datacentre operators to personalise and reduce the latency of centralised data operations by pushing these closer to the user at network edge.

    A typical application could be a retail store or industrial factory connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). More of the applications run within edge-based locations will use high-performance computing and high-density storage systems which will need an efficient and reliable cooling technology. Liquid cooling provides an alternative where traditional cooling solutions cannot be installed or where the existing system cannot cater for the greater loads placed upon it. A typical rack window for liquid cooling would be 40-50kW per rack.

    Crypto Currency Mining and IoT Applications

    Financial institutions have always driven datacentre operations and pushed their designs for speed and power density. This trend has increased with more datacentres set-up or taken-over specifically for new technologies including Blockchain management and Bitcoin-type cryptocurrency mining.

    Outside of the financial industry, other verticals that will form part of the Internet of Things (IoT) will require high-density and more powerful computing. A typical liquid cooling solution could run from 80-100kW per rack and full immersion tank cooling could be considered as a viable option such applications.

    Power Recovery and PUE Ratio

    One aspect that can be overlooked, is that more efficient cooling can recover power capacity. Liquid cooling solutions can be retrofitted into an existing datacentre or server room environment where an existing air-based cooling solution cannot be upgraded to cope with increased cooling demands.

    Cooling is a must-have critical infrastructure system, and it is one that is also expensive to run. Liquid cooling and even immersion cooling solutions can be installed as a day-one solution or retrofitted to an existing server room or datacentre. Increased costs over traditional air-based cooling systems can be recovered in time through improvements in energy efficiency, and lower Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) ratio. Energy efficiency improvements of over 90% are achievable when waste heat is redistributed for other areas of the datacentre or surrounding area.

    Switching over to a liquid-based system should also provide the server room or datacentre site with a cooling solution better able to meet the rising power demands of processors and accelerators.

    Quite rightly, water leakage in a datacentre environment will always be a concern. A traditional solution would be to install water leakage monitoring but this would only alarm when there was an actual leak and risk of damage to critical systems. Water leakage should not be an issue for a correctly installed and maintained liquid-based cooling system and one installed with its own leak prevention system (LPS).

    Please contact us if you would like to discuss a cooling project or to arrange and air conditioning site survey for your server room or datacentre application.

    Are you interested in liquid cooling for your data centre or server room? Speak to one of our project managers on 0800 030 6838 or email a specification for us to review.

    The post The Rising Tide of Liquid Cooling Solutions for Datacentres appeared first on Server Room Environments.


    Cool Lessons From The Summer Heatwave

    There is a very good chance that we will always remember the UK summer of 2018. Week-long heatwaves and an average temperature of 15.8˚C saw this summer narrowly beat the previous record temperature levels of 1976. The summer months of June and July were also notably dry, although August seemed to return to more average [...] The post Cool Lessons From The Summer Heatwave appeared first on Server Room...

    There is a very good chance that we will always remember the UK summer of 2018. Week-long heatwaves and an average temperature of 15.8˚C saw this summer narrowly beat the previous record temperature levels of 1976. The summer months of June and July were also notably dry, although August seemed to return to more average conditions.

    Cooling Industry Implications

    So, what did this mean for the cooling industry and those reliant on their air conditioners? The first thing we noticed was a rapid call in rate from potential UK clients whose air conditioners were alarming due to their loading and the ambient temperatures they were working within. Across the industry this led to more rental units being rushed to sites along with HVAC installation teams and maintenance personnel.

    The second thing to note was that the HVAC industry was taken by surprise, at a time when most air conditioner factories were heading into their summer shutdown period. Supply chain stocks started to quickly dry up and lead times for new air conditions extended quite dramatically.

    When you also factor in that the heatwave was Europe-wide, you can start to see the scale of problem. Those server room and datacentre operations with little spare capacity or resilience faced desperate times and may well do so again in the future. The summer of 2018 was not a one off event.

    Temperature Rise Warnings

    The summer heatwave lead to many more discussions about the causes for global warming and the need to reduce one of the principle causes: emissions.

    The UK is already leading the world in terms of tackling climate change. Since 1990, UK emissions are down more than 40%. However, worldwide emissions are still too high and are not falling quickly enough with many predicting that summers like that of 2018 could become the norm in countries like the UK.

    In terms of forecasts, the UK Met Office issued the UK Climate Projections in November 2018 to illustrate a range of future climate scenarios up to 2100. The predictions include:

    • The chance of a summer as hot as 2018 is around 50 % by 2050
    • Summer temperatures could be up to 5.4°C hotter by 2070
    • Winters could be up to 4.2°C warmer by 2070
    • Sea levels in London could rise by up to 1.15 metres by 2100
    • Average summer rainfall could decrease by up to 47 % by 2070 and there could be up to 35 % more precipitation in winter

    For more information on emmissions and UK climate projections see: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/2018/ukcp18-launch-pr

    Climate Control Reviews

    Winter in the UK can seem almost bearable given last summer’s heatwave and it is all too easy for some to forget just how hot it was. However, the winter period provides an ideal opportunity for UK based server room and datacentre operators (from small to hyperscale) to review their current climate control operations. Who knows, the summer of 2019 will be even hotter and set a new record!

    Cooler outside ambient temperatures provide the ideal breathing space to review climate control operations in a less hectic and more pragmatic manner than when fans and filters are overloaded and systems are in alarm conditions.

    Climate Controls Checklist

    At Server Room Environments we would recommend the following summary checklist of areas to cover:

    • Cooling system arrangements: wall, ceiling, in-row or complete room
    • System safety margins i.e. running at less than 80% of capacity
    • Redundancy in terms of N+X resilience
    • Thermal profiles, hot spots and airflows at the rack and room levels
    • Energy efficiency and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) projections
    • Maintenance contracts and emergency response plans
    • Onsite storage of temporary air conditioners
    • Disaster planning, Cloud storage and mirror sites
    • Building Management System integration and reporting
    • Temperature and humidity alarm monitoring

    There is no doubt that some IT and Facilities Managers will take the time this winter to review their climate control systems. They will take steps to ensure that summer heatwaves like the one of 2018, present a managed or no risk to their server room and datacentre operations. 

    Others may be inclined to continue to run too close to the edge and risk operational reliability. For those who want to take the risk it is important to remember that heat kills electronics and is a sign of inefficiency. When you continuously run an electrical or electronic system at near to or above full capacity this can lead to a rapidly reducing working life. Put simply, heat ages components, assembles and complete systems and can lead to sudden and dramatic failures. Unexpected labour and replacement component costs can occur which may not be covered by an air conditioning maintenance contract. Other costs can be associated with cooling system failures including non-productive downtime.

    So if you want a ‘takeaway’ from the summer of 2018, consider reviewing your climate controls with the checklist we have described. Our team of HVAC qualified project managers are always available to give advice and carry out a complete site survey. 

    Server Room Environments are specialists in all aspects of building HVAC systems. We work with several air conditioning and HVAC controls manufacturers and are completely independent. This allows us to propose the right solution for our clients and ensure that their buildings are ready to face the future with confidence in their cooling systems.

    Are you interested in how to cool your data centre or server room? Speak to one of our project managers on 0800 030 6838 or email a specification for us to review.

    The post Cool Lessons From The Summer Heatwave appeared first on Server Room Environments.


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