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Industry News: ASHRAE Updates Thermal Guidelines with “Groundbreaking Information” for Data Center Energy Efficiency

October 17, 2012

ASHRAE logoIn 2004, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) published its first edition of Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments.

Back then, the easiest way to offset high temperatures in the data center? Turn the thermostat down, way down. And as the story goes, many reluctantly did, watching their energy bills skyrocket in the process – especially as increasingly dense compute power of IT equipment outpaced the industry’s ability to mitigate the pitfalls of uncontrolled exhaust air.

Fast forward to October 2012 and ASHRAE’s Technical Committee (TC) 9.9 for Mission Critical Facilities now introduces us to the third edition of Thermal Guidelines, complete with the latest information from major IT equipment manufacturers in pursuit of true energy efficiency within the data center.

But what exactly, do you ask, is all the hoopla about? As Don Beaty, chair of the Publications Subcommittee of TC 9.9 puts it, “the most valuable update to this edition is the inclusion of IT equipment failure rate estimates based on inlet air temperature.”

Unpack that statement ever so slightly and here’s what you have: remember all the headaches and heartburn that high temperatures in the data center used to cause? What if we told you there were now proven methods to turn that heat into your ally? And just to top it off, what if we told you that rather than turn those thermostats down, you can turn them up! Sounds nice, right? It is – and here’s why…

Thanks to years’ worth of research and investigation by ASHRAE and its partners, the industry is beginning to see there are financial rewards to reap by raising temperatures in the data center. And how do you go about raising temperatures? You optimize your data center for peak performance through a variety of cost saving measures, now recognized by ASHRAE as being proven methods for true energy efficiency in the data center.

The third edition outlines these key methods, including:

  • Air-cooled equipment
  • Liquid-cooled equipment
  • Facility temperature and humidity measurement
  • Equipment placement and airflow patterns (aisle containment)
  • Equipment manufacturer heat load and airflow requirements reporting

Additionally, the third edition also contains flow charts that walk a data center operator through the process of determining what operating temperature will produce the best return on investment (ROI). In each chart, the first question is – do you have good airflow management and containment? If not, do not pass go, do not collect $200 – you’re simply not doing it right! It all starts with better airflow management and containment – and it all starts now.

CPI Hot Aisle ContainmentThankfully, Chatsworth Products has been pioneering optimal airflow management in the data center since 2006, when we introduced CPI Passive Cooling® Solutions at the cabinet level. And after years of custom refinement, we’re now leading the new charge into hot (seen in the image at right) and cold air isolation at the aisle level with Aisle Containment Solutions by CPI.

As the industry begins to better define and standardize this highly energy efficient approach to data center cooling, you can rest assured that CPI will continue to lead the way, helping ASHRAE and others to turn the page towards a new day and new dawn in data center management. Make sure you’re along for the ride and give us a call today at 800-834-4969. Jeff Cihocki, Global eContent Specialist

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