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Dell breathes fresh air technology into data centres

DELL has announced a new fresh air cooling solution for data centres to allow facilities to operate at higher temperatures and in some cases even without chillers.
The Dell Fresh Air cooling solution of servers, storage and networking equipment is capable of short-term, excursion-based operation in temperatures up to 113°F (45°C). The solution has been tested and validated to operate within the highest current temperature and humidity guidelines issued by ASHRAE.

Dell says that using the servers, storage units or network switches with Fresh Air capability will not only allow data centres to operate at higher temperatures, it will also increase energy efficiency and potentially decrease operational costs. In some climates, the cost to build a chiller plant as part of the data center facility can be eliminated altogether.

In addition to ASHRAE's updated standard, The Institute for Energy, a European guidance body, has issued the European Union Code of Conduct for Data Centres, which challenges IT manufacturers to increase their allowable environmental limits and sets a goal of enabling chiller-less facility designs.

IT systems that can tolerate higher temperatures can also reduce the risk of IT failures during facility cooling outages and running data centres at warmer temperatures can help reduce additional maintenance and infrastructure costs and lower energy consumption.

Trends in data centre design have placed an increased emphasis on the efficiency and cost benefits that can be achieved with higher operational temperatures.

New data centre construction by companies such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo has demonstrated a shift toward fresh air-cooled data centers that do not rely on chiller technology. However, the standard allowable temperature maximum of 95°F (35°C) for today's IT equipment limits the locations where they can be used without having to have a backup chiller facility for high temperature excursions.

Dell has validated a portfolio of servers, storage, networking, and power infrastructure that deliver short-term, excursion-based operation with limited impact on performance across a larger environmental window. In line with the new, more stringent ASHRAE A3 and A4 classifications, Dell systems have been developed for sustained operation at temperature ranges from minus 23°F (5°C) to 113°F (45°C) and allowable humidity from 5 per cent to 90 per cent. This level of design robustness has been validated by recent tests indicating that the products can tolerate up to 900 hours of 104°F (40°C) operation per year and up to 90 hours at 113°F (45°C).

Forrest Norrod, vice president and general manager, server platforms for Dell said: 'Many organisations, particularly those in the cloud services business, are focused on driving much greater efficiencies in their data centre operations. Dell data centre technologies with Fresh Air capability allow for aggressive improvements in energy consumption and the resulting operational costs, even in data centers that have already been economized with respect to cooling. The total Fresh Air solution, with thermal, reliability, and system engineering fully validated, is based on advanced engineering and design.'

Jason Waxman, general manager of high density computing at Intel said: 'With rising energy costs and global concerns over energy consumption and carbon footprint, data centers worldwide are prioritising reduction in the cost of infrastructure cooling. Dell's Fresh Air cooling solution combined with servers using Intel Xeon processors running at higher ambient temperatures will provide a breakthrough in efficiency for data centres.'

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