Between a rack and a hot spot: Integrated cold-air containment

By Joyce Ruff

As IT directors look for ways to lower costs associated with energy use and capital expense, improving the distribution of air to data center equipment can have a surprisingly favorable impact on the bottom line. Consider that Gartner and The Uptime Institute have stated that data center energy consumption more than doubled from 2000 to 2006 — it’s easy to understand why energy costs are staggering. That’s where Dell’s PowerEdge Energy Smart containment rack enclosures come in. They are designed to help achieve greater efficiencies via:

  • Preventing Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) over-provisioning
  • Distributing airflow evenly to all equipment installed in the rack
  • Eliminating hot and cold air mixing
  • Removing data center hot spots

Here’s how it works:

When used in a raised-floor data center, the solid-panel front door of the Dell Energy Smart rack seals a front vertical and connected lower horizontal air plenum that delivers cold air to the equipment through the ventilated tile positioned below the rack. A tight brush seal around the Energy Smart rack’s lower perimeter enables the IT equipment to take part in the CRAC air distribution process by controlling how much air comes out of the floor (see figure below). In effect, the rack becomes a standalone containment system.

Normally, local under-floor pressure and inherent airflow resistance of the vent determine the amount of air delivered. The containment rack acts as a second resistance but also has its own air-moving capability. Each Dell server, storage, and networking system has elaborate airflow control algorithms that constantly adjust to help ensure an adequate volume of air is passing through and maintaining proper component temperatures. These systems use the rack as a duct to regulate how much air comes out of the floor. The rack consumes from the floor only what is needed by the equipment it houses. It is designed to reduce waste by helping to eliminate unnecessary air blowing past the rack and traveling back to the CRAC unit unused.

With the air delivery contained, the Energy Smart rack can achieve system densities up to 25 kW. The passive design does not limit the airflow, so a single rack can hold more equipment, such as Energy Smart systems, PowerEdge C servers and blade servers. Since the Energy Smart rack’s integrated containment provides exactly the amount of air needed by the equipment, there are no hot spots. The air maintains a consistent temperature within the plenum, even at the top of the rack. That means more efficient cooling for your systems and less work for you.

IT managers share a common and pressing problem: how to reduce energy consumption and cost without compromising IT performance. Our easy-to-deploy Energy Smart rack enclosures can improve CRAC efficiency, helping reduce operating expenses while supporting high-density deployments. To find out more about how our new Energy Smart rack enclosures can help you realize greater efficiencies, watch this video and let us know what you think.

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About the Author: Joy Ruff