Higher temperatures keep data centers cool for U.K.’s weather forecaster

May 11, 2009 by
Filed under: Data Center, environmental monitoring 

The U.K. government’s Meterological Office (Met Office) wants to increase the temperature of some of its data centers, according to a report in eWeek Europe. While it’s traditional to keep data centers cool, the Met Office wants to move out some of its more temperature-sensitive machines, such as tape drives, presumably so that it would enable it to be more efficient at keeping the temperature for the rest of its equipment on an even keel.

The government agency is using its modeling know-how to model the airflow around servers in its data centers to help it locate hot- and cool-spots. The knowledge would enable it to better distribute equipment, according to the article.

As InsideHPC points out, the move is similar to efforts deployed by Argonne National Laboratory’s Leadership Computing Facility. The agency shaved $25,000 a month off its electricity bill by using Illinois’ cold temperatures to chill the water to cool its systems.

Jeff Sims, ALCF project manager told HPCwire: “The trick is to find the warmest chilled water temperature you can live with at a given machine load, thus reducing the electric load on the chillers and maximizing the free cooling period.”

As part of the Met Office’s overhaul of its high-performance computing systems in the next 18 months, the agency also plans to use direct current (DC) instead of alternating current (AC) in its servers to “avoid the large losses of power during conversion from AC to DC,” according to eWeek. It quotes Met Office IT chief Steve Foreman as saying:

“We take the power off the mains, put it through the UPS so it is goes to DC, convert it back to AC,step it up, step it down, move it around a bit, and then we take it down into the machines for the current required … We are asking suppliers if there is any way we can reduce all that power loss so that we can just take DC out of the UPS [Uninterruptible Power Supply] and straight into the machines. We reckon we could save about 5% of our power use just by doing that and taking out those losses.”

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