Tracking the Hot Spots

Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole spoke with Robert Hanna, General Manger, Cooling Solutions, and Russell Senesac, Product Manager, American Power Conversion.


Cole: APC has a long history of building power supplies for all sorts of industries. What technologies can you bring to the table to reduce power consumption in the data center?
Senesac: APC's focus continues to be on solving the equation in the data center of "power in" and "heat out" in the most effective way. Three things to consider when building and managing a data center are:


  1. a modular, "pay as you grow" approach with power and cooling, preventing overbuilding and unnecessary efficiency lost including electricity;
  2. making your cooling predictable by placing the cooling systems in the IT rack line-up so the hot air is captured where it is created. This provides even greater energy savings;
  3. managing the heat source in the data center by identifying where the hot spots are and, through effective management, being able to neutralize the hot air where it is created.



In an effort to assist in several of these issues, APC offers InfraStruXure, an on-demand architecture for network-critical physical infrastructure (NCPI), which integrates power, cooling, rack, management and services. The architecture allows for the selection of standardized components to create a solution through modular and mobile configurations. This standardization enables an easily scalable architecture designed to meet changing needs and future expansion.


Cole: Much of the problem is caused by the relatively recent introduction of high-power processors in densely packed server configurations. Is there a way that these designs can be modified to lessen power consumption, or does the answer lie in more efficient means of delivering power?
Senesac: Because of variable power supplies now found in IT equipment, as well as variable server loading, the heat source within the data center is going to migrate around the data center depending on time of day. As the power supply changes output to match the application demand, the heat output changes (power in/heat out). Variations in heat output can be close to instantaneous. The traditional solution is to flood the room with cool air. However, this has huge energy penalties and is oftentimes ineffective. Again, the key to solving this problem is to understand where the hot spots are through effective management and neutralize the hot air where it is created.


Cole: Where does APC stand on the water-cooled vs. air-cooled debate?
Hanna: APC's air-cooled cooling solutions are capable of meeting the demands of any equipment available today that we are aware of. We believe air-cooled solutions will continue to be the method of choice up to densities as high as 60kW per rack. This said, we are exploring water-cooled cooling solutions and their benefits for extreme densities beyond 60kW per rack.

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