Data Centers A large part of ANCIS' design work is centered round data centers. Most data centers are considered mission critical environments, and the cost of downtime can be on the order of millions of dollars per hour. Clearly, providing a physical environment that guarantees reliable and uninterrupted operation is the primary goal. Overall energy efficiency is also increasingly becoming important to data center owners and operators. Below are two typical project examples.
Enclosed Cold-Aisle Architecture When a leading microchip manufacturer planned their next-generation data centers (300 - 400 W/sq ft), ANCIS was contracted to analyze multiple cooling solutions. The design of the thermal management system should not only provide exceptional cooling characteristics but also have low first cost and energy usage. Separation of hot and cold air in the equipment room is a prerequisite for improving both equipment cooling and energy efficiency. One method of avoiding detrimental mixing is to enclose the cold aisles. The winning design was based on a traditional raised floor solution but enhanced by physically isolating (enclosing) the cold aisles from the rest of the equipment space. The pressurization of the cold aisles effectively blocks infiltration of hot air from the room. The aisle enclosures also promote beneficial averaging of the typically non-uniform tile airflows, resulting in even and ideal equipment intake temperature conditions.
Open Architecture without Enclosed Aisles Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling is an effective tool to evaluate the thermal performance of data centers and other equipment spaces; it provides a 3-D visual representation of air temperatures and airflows. When a global on-line retailer asked ANCIS to perform a peer review of a data center design proposed by the company's mechanical contractor, we suggested utilizing CFD modeling and subsequent rack cooling effectiveness (RCI) analysis.
Based on the study, we provided numerous recommendations to enhance the original design. Key factors for improving the cooling effectiveness and energy efficiency were to harmonize the supply temperature with the equipment specifications, match the computer room air-conditioning (CRAC) design with the equipment characteristics, and re-arrange the CRAC units to improve cooling during shutdown/failure. The analysis verified that an open architecture can provide excellent thermal conditions and energy efficiency.
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