If you think a discussion about some number of airflow management considerations in building a new data center is going to ring up the normal litany of plugging holes with filler panels and floor grommets, separating hot aisles from cold aisles, minimizing or eliminating bypass and recirculation, deploying variable air volume fans, intelligently locating perforated floor tiles and measuring temperature at server inlets, then you would be sorely mistaken.
Upsite Technologies does not consider any of those practices to be “considerations”; rather, those practices are what they call the minimum price of admission. None of these practices fall into the state of the art or leading edge categories of data center design, but are firmly established as best practices. By all established industry standards and guidelines, these airflow management tactics are the minimum starting point before you can start benefiting from being able to control airflow volume and temperature – the activity of airflow management, and the key to exploiting both efficiency and effectiveness opportunities in the data center.
So, if these minimum requirements are not today’s subject, what are considerations for airflow management in building a new data center? Let's borrow from the ASHRAE handbook, Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments, 4th edition, and what they call server metrics for determining data center operating environmental envelope. ASHRAE lists seven metrics:
- Server power versus inlet temperature
- Server performance versus inlet temperature
- Server cost versus inlet temperature
- Climate data versus server inlet temperature
- Server corrosion versus moisture levels
- Server reliability versus inlet temperature
- Server acoustical noise versus inlet temperature
With a little further expansion, these metrics provide a list of important data center design considerations for taking advantage of the minimum level of airflow management best practices cited in the opening paragraph. Note that the order of presenting these considerations does not imply a degree of importance. ASHRAE presents then in a circular diagram and importance will vary from data center to data center, from company to company. With the project team committed to airflow management best practices, these considerations should then become part of the very initial thinking with engineering and architectural resources. Continue reading