Dutch Engineers Launch Multi-Storey Data Centres

Put the cooling under the servers, says data centre builder Imtech


Dutch engineering company Imtech has launched a new multi-storey design for data centres, which it claims can save millions of Euros per year in a typical large company.

The Common Rail Cooling design draws on expertise from the company’s building and engineering divisions, to channel air more efficiently, so a data centre using 10MW of electricity can save around €3 to €5 million a year, the company claimed at IDC’s Enterprise Datacentre Conference in London.

Imtech is already building data centres to the new multiple-layer design, which meets the EU Code of Conduct for data centres. All fans and mechanical equipment is placed in the ground floor, and the second floor is a pressurised air plenum. Servers are on the second floor, and above that, there is access space.

“Most data centres are designed horizontally, which means there is inefficiency in the transport of power and cooling,” said Frank Brand, the director of operations at Imtech. “They are mostly too large in terms of floor space, but too small in terms of the available power and cooling.”

Placing the cooling directly under the servers increases the efficiency, he said. “We’re a 200 year-old company, with expertise in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and ICT, It all comes together in data centres.”

The design can be used in new data centres or retro-fitted to older ones, and instead of the normal 2.0 PUE of today’s typical datacentres, will allow data centres to reach a more creditable 1.4 or so, said Brand.

Imtech is keeping up with current trends, raising the air temperature around its servers to reduce the power used in cooling, and proposing the waste heat can be used: “We are driving up the air temperature at the back of the servers to 38C. We can use that to heat offices, or water for a swimming pool.”

Data centres built in this way would have the same capital expenditure as normal data centres, he said, but have a sizeable power saving. Imtech also offers data centre health checks.