Data Center Airflow Management

Posted byVijay Gupta19/06/20240 Comment(s)

Data center managers have two primary objectives: meeting scalability requirements and minimizing operating costs. Both goals are directly impacted by thermal management, which is closely tied to airflow management. Often, managers think adding more cooling will resolve overheating issues. However, even when cooling is set to maximum capacity, this is not a viable solution. While it may cool the data center, it also significantly increases electricity bills.

A simpler and more effective solution is data center airflow management. Facilitating easier air movement through the equipment allows for more efficient heat dissipation from the hardware.


Reducing Air Leaks

Ensuring a sealed environment is crucial. Similar to keeping a room cool with an air conditioner in the summer, you need to prevent air from escaping through any holes or gaps. Air leaks around cable cutouts can cause cold and hot air to mix, reducing the efficiency of the cooling system. Identifying and sealing these leaks is essential to improving airflow and ensuring the cooling system operates effectively.


Focusing Cool Air

Unlike cooling a home for consistent comfort, data center cooling requires precision tailored to specific equipment. Instead of uniformly distributing cold air throughout the data center or vaguely directing it towards servers, cold air must be specifically targeted to the equipment that needs cooling.


Arranging Server Racks and Cabinets in Hot/Cold Aisles

Server racks and cabinets should be arranged so that the fronts of rows face each other, creating cold aisles. The backs of rows will face each other, creating hot aisles. This setup directs cold air into the cold aisles behind the server cabinets, optimizing airflow. The forward aisles receive less air since they dissipate less heat.


Proper Placement of Server Racks and Cabinets

Ensure that the intake ports of equipment face the front of the cabinet during installation. For devices with lateral airflow, use rack-mounted side-to-side air distribution units to channel cold air from the front to the intake ports on the side of the equipment. Proper cable management is essential to avoid obstructing airflow. Ventilated doors and additional fans can further enhance air circulation.


Implementing Aisle Seals

Simply having the right equipment is not enough. Without extending racks and cabinets to the ceiling, hot air can flow over the top of rows and mix with cold air in adjacent aisles. Aisle seal systems create a physical barrier, ensuring that all air flows through the servers and preventing it from entering the space above. This setup traps cold air in the cold aisle, allowing hot air to rise to exhaust ports, either venting outdoors or into the ceiling ventilation system. Aisle seals can improve cooling efficiency by up to 30%.


By following these airflow management practices and continuously adjusting and recording data, you can optimize airflow in your data center and reduce energy consumption. Regularly monitor and track what works and what doesn't for your organization to implement any necessary changes effectively.

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