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Today’s datacentres run at much lower temperatures than necessary

Archana Venkatraman

Datacentres are still running at below 20ºC wasting electricity although the optimum temperature for operating them is 25-26ºC, experts have said.

“Many datacentres operate at cooler temperatures than necessary because customers are not comfortable running IT facilities at higher temperatures for fear that the systems will fail,” said Jim Hearnden, product technologist for datacentre power and cooling at Dell.

Another reason why datacentre operators over-cool their infrastructure and make it energy-inefficient is because of the nature of UPS batteries used in datacentres.  

“Batteries are the biggest reasons for datacentres running at higher temperatures,” said Cyrille Brisson, vice-president of Power Quality, EMEA at Eaton.

Batteries commonly used in datacentres comprise lead and acid and cannot bear higher temperatures. "But 25ºC is perfectly fine yet customers prefer to operate their IT facilities at much lower temperatures,” Brisson said.

Experts pointed that newer server products that can be used in datacentres are made to withstand up to 35ºC but customers still worry that their IT will suffer increased equipment failure due to the higher temperatures involved.

According to experts, if the existing operating temperature of an enterprise’s computer room air conditioning (CRAC) unit is in the low 20ºC range, then the datacentre is likely to be running too cool.

“It is not a slightly higher temperatures that cause systems in datacentres to crash, but the rate of change in temperature that affects the systems,” Brisson said.

Hearnden added that Dell research showed that systems failed more in colder datacentre temperatures – below 16ºC – than in those running at 25ºC.

Experts advised businesses to try moving the CRAC set point upwards towards 24ºC – or even higher if the majority of their datacentre equipment is relatively new.

Each increased degree in temperature requires less cooling, so less energy is needed making the datacentre more energy efficient and slashing energy bills for the enterprise.


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