Stop Over-Clocking Your Data Centre Fans, Says Sun

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Throwing energy at servers to keep them chilled is a waste of money – and bad for the environment

IT staff should reduce the amount of energy they waste by over-cooling their data centres, according to Sun Microsystems.

The server-maker’s recommendations include cutting down the number of fans in data centre racks, and reducing the amount of time they are running for, allowing the overall temperature in the data centre to rise, so less energy is spent expelling heat from the building, and even trading-off the working life of their equipment by running it in less.

“Fans are a big part of the power budget in many data centres, taking as much as 20 percent of the total power of the system,” said Phil Morris, chief technologist for Sun’s data centre efficiency practice, in a webcast broadcast by BrightTalk.

“Overclocking those fans – making them run too fast – is a big waste of energy.”

A lot of companies are still throwing energy at their data centres to run cooling systems that reduce their temperature lower than necessary, said Morris. The authority here is the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and it recommends that the input temperature for data racks could be raised to 40C, while many organisations are still chilling to far lower temperatures.

Much data centre equipment was built to earlier standards than the current ASHRAE limits warned Morris in the presentation, part of a virtual conference on IT Power Management, but this will change: “As technology gets refreshed and equipment gets upgraded or replaced, we will see more and more ability to handle higher temperature operations.”

Vendors have two sets of recommendations for their equipment -and uses should consider using the extended operating range, rather than the optimal performance temperature, said Morris.

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