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Containment at the Edge – Making the Edge Efficient, Scalable, and Sustainable

Containment at the Edge – Making the Edge Efficient, Scalable, and Sustainable

Each day, technology touches nearly every aspect of our lives in one way or the other. For example, how many times a day do each of us access one or more apps on our smart phone? This trend of needing, creating, transferring, and accessing data in fractions of a second isn’t going away either. According to Gartner Research, by 2020, internet capable devices worldwide reached over 20 billion, and this number is expected to double by 2025. It is also estimated that approximately 463 exabytes of data (1 exabyte is equivalent to 1 billion gigabytes) will be generated each day by people as of 2025, that’s the equivalent of 212,765,957 DVDs per day!1 Along with this increase comes the need to have this data as fast as possible, with minimum delay or latency, something most of today’s data centers are not capable of.

The increase in data and the need for high-speed data transfers has inspired the recent trend known as edge computing. What exactly is the edge? What is an edge data center? How are edge data centers evolving and how can facility and data center managers be ready without being left behind? What about the challenge of making a resilient, modular, and scalable edge data center while maintaining high efficiency and reliability? This paper will answer these and many more questions about the edge in the following topics:

  • What is an Edge Data Center
  • The Evolution of Edge Computing
  • How Organizations are Responding to Edge Data Centers
  • Solving the Challenge of Modular and Scalable Edge Infrastructures
  • Reliability and Efficiency Needed at the Edge
  • Containment’s Critical Role in Edge Deployments
  • Bridging the Gap to the Edge, Now and Future

Read the full white paper here.

ContainmentData Center Containmentdata center efficiencyedgeedge computingedge data centerefficientinfrastructuremicro data centerscalablesustainable
5 Steps to Improving Data Center Performance & Energy Efficiency

5 Steps to Improving Data Center Performance & Energy Efficiency

By Sam Prudhomme, Vice President of Sales & Marketing

Recently, I was interviewed by a Computer Weekly journalist, Fleur Doidge, who was writing an article focusing on the quick wins when it comes to improving systems performance in the data center. Inspired by our discussion, I’ve come up with Subzero’s top 5 ways to boost data center utilization.

The data center industry, quite rightly, has an ongoing, major focus on how it can improve both the performance and energy efficiency of its facilities. That’s partly down to the perception that our industry are major consumers of energy and contribute a high volume of carbon emissions each year.

According to an article published in Science Magazine, data centers account for around 1% of global energy use. It’s clear that we need to improve our environmental performance and to ensure we never forget we’re part of the sustainability solution, but we should also remember that data center performance and energy efficiency improvements make great business sense.

While there are many, many issues to consider as part of a comprehensive, long-term strategy to both improve data center performance as well as to achieve carbon neutral status, this article focuses on the ‘low hanging fruit’ – relatively simple actions, which will have an immediate positive impact on your facility, and with an ROI measured in months rather than years.

Step 1 – As Easy as (free) CFD

Those of you who know Subzero Engineering well will not be surprised that Step 1 involves a Environmental Impact Evaluation (CFD) of your data center. We believe it all starts with the data and offer this service for free. It is a simple, efficient, and super-fast way of discovering just how your data center is performing right now – where the power is, where the heat is, and isn’t, hence where the cold air does or doesn’t need to be.

Step 2 – Using the Data

Once the Environmental Impact Evaluation (CFD) has been carried out, you’ll be armed with a large quantity of data about how your data center is performing. It’s highly likely that you’ll be presented with some really quick wins. For example, you’ll discover where the hotspots (points of efficiency leakage) are; and part of the solution may be something as simple as installing any necessary blanking panels.

Then again, the CFD data may highlight that Row 5 in Rack 6 is running 15 degrees hotter than anywhere else in the data center. You’ll be able to decide whether you need to move this stack to a better location where more cooling is available, or maybe you just need to open up the grate to optimize or increase the airflow.

Step 3 – The 3 ms: Measuring, monitoring & Modulation

A data center is a live environment. So, although the CFD analysis can identify and help to resolve what we might call any ‘permanent’ power and cooling issues, it’s essential that you monitor and measure the performance of the power and cooling plant in real-time. This is because data center variables such as the IT load and operating temperatures are in constant flux. With the right system you are able to modulate the airflow accordingly. For example, if the cooling needs to react to the load inside each rack and cabinet, as well as respond to the impact of, say, an extremely hot outside temperature.

Rather than blast a load of cold air into the data center and ‘hope’ that it keeps the IT hardware within operating tolerances, with the right monitoring solution, you can be confident that you can modulate the cold air as required right down to the rack level. This ensures that the cooling usage is as effective and energy efficient as possible.

Step 4 – Contain Your Excitement

How would you like to reduce your PUE by 0.4? Or to achieve a 29% reduction in data center energy consumption? Well, these are the average savings we achieve for our customers when they deploy one of our containment solutions.

The initial Environmental Impact Evaluation (CFD) we carry out also proves how this can be achieved – it compares and contrasts hot vs cold aisle containment and containment vs no containment. Furthermore, a containment solution ensures that Steps 1-3 really do achieve the maximum performance and energy efficiency improvements within the data center.

Without containment, you’ll still have hotspots – separating hot and cold air will be hit and miss and far from being optimized.

With containment, you can bring down the power consumption to cooling ratio close to a 1:1 match in KW consumed – that’s how the energy consumption/utility bill reduction is achieved.

As for the PUE reduction? Well, that’s achieved by smarter, more efficient use of an optimized combination of chilled water and the air conditioning fans. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that containment can reduce fan energy consumption by up to 25% and deliver 20% savings at the cold water chiller.1

One final containment benefit – we supplied a containment solution to a colo customer and by separating the hot and cold air in their facility, we helped them to not only eliminate hotspots, but also to increase rack density by an average of 14%.

Step 5 – Turn the Lights out

This breadth of knowledge brings me to my final data center performance and energy efficiency improvement: turn out the lights. By that, I actually mean remove anything incandescent and go with an LED retrofit kit within your existing tray system. And then automate the lighting system.

It may be a while before a true lights out data center becomes the norm, if ever, but that’s no excuse not to ensure that your lighting system is as energy efficient as possible. By using LEDs and only using the lights when needed you’ll improve your energy efficiency as well as your bank balance.

While Subzero Engineering’s major focus is data center consultancy, using CFD analysis and containment solutions, to help drive performance and efficiency improvements we can also help owners/operators with their critical power infrastructure, DCIM and other solutions as required.

Download the 5 Steps to Improving Data Center Performance & Energy Efficiency pdf here.

 

References

1Recalibrating global data center energy-use estimates – Science Magazine 2018

CFDContainmentdata centerdata center energy consumptiondata center performanceEnergy EfficiencyEnvironmental Impact EvaluationPUErack densitysustainability
Subzero Engineering and Armstrong World Industries partner to serve U.S. data center market

Subzero Engineering and Armstrong World Industries partner to serve U.S. data center market

  • This partnership is the latest development in the portfolio expansion of data center products and services from Armstrong and Subzero Engineering
  • The Armstrong DynaMax™ structural ceiling solution combines seamlessly with Subzero Engineering’s high-performance and energy efficient, Essential Series and Essential Plus+ (formerly Elite Series) containment systems
  • Subzero will exclusively utilize the Armstrong DynaMax™ structural ceiling solution to complement Subzero Engineering’s high-performance and energy efficient data center containment systems
  • The partnership enables Subzero Engineering to deliver a secure, turnkey solution, combining Armstrong ceiling systems with containment for rapid installation and reduced cost

 

San Antonio, TX June 14, 2021 – Subzero Engineering, a leading provider of data center containment solutions, and Armstrong World Industries (AWI), a leader in the design and manufacture of innovative commercial and residential ceiling, wall, and suspension solutions, have announced a strategic relationship for the Americas markets.  Subzero Engineering and AWI have come together to create a combined containment and structural ceiling solution for data centers that is high-strength, flexible, and quick-to-install.  Further, this secure, turnkey solution offers cost savings and reduced time-to-market and eliminates construction inefficiencies.

The Armstrong DynaMax™ ceiling solution is an aluminum suspension system that serves as a structural and conveyance component in data centers. It provides a suspension plenum or attachment platform for cable trays, equipment, partitions, and hot and cold aisle containment barriers, while eliminating penetrations in the ceiling system. Available in 2′ x 2′, 2′ x 4′, and 4′ x 4′ suspension system layouts with coordinated ceiling options, the DynaMax™ suspension system can support up to a 900 lb. point load rating using 3/8″ threaded rods at 4′ x 4′ connection points.

Subzero Engineering will seamlessly combine the DynaMax™ structural system with its Essential Series and Essential Plus+ product lines, offering hyperscale, colocation, and enterprise data center operators a standardized, vendor-neutral and flexible containment solution with a fully accessible ceiling system. The new collaboration enables Subzero to incorporate the Armstrong DynaMax™ system into their US data center market offerings and allows Subzero to provide any combination of non-structural and structural ceiling components for data centers, including an ultra-secure containment barrier to protect servers from debris.

“Subzero Engineering equals our own passion for innovation and their expertise in the data center market is a great match for us,” said Charlie Chiappone, Senior Vice President, Ceiling and Wall Solutions, Armstrong World Industries. “The Subzero Essential Series and Essential Plus+ products combined with our DynaMax™ ceiling solution offers a seamless approach to infrastructure provision at a time when cost optimization, performance, and efficiency are key objectives for data center owners and operators alike.”

“A company with Armstrong’s status in the commercial construction industry is the perfect organization for Subzero to partner with, enabling us to meet customer demands for turnkey solutions that combine customer needs with cost efficiency,” said Sam Prudhomme, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Mission Critical Environments Division, Subzero Engineering. “This strategic relationship will enable Subzero Engineering to quickly deliver a robust, structural conveyance system that includes high-quality containment, ensuring a customer-first approach to data center design and optimization.”

Rapidly expanding solution portfolio

Incorporating the Armstrong DynaMax™ structural ceiling system into the latest offerings from Subzero Engineering, including the recently introduced Essential Series, creates a comprehensive portfolio of data center infrastructure solutions, engineering consultancy, and modernization services, delivering industry-leading technology designed to address major customer challenges.

“Subzero Engineering has established a market-leading reputation for consultancy and innovative products, at a time when traditional approaches are unable to meet the demands of the digital age,” added Sam Prudhomme. “From the launch of our Essential Series and partnering with Armstrong to incorporate the DynaMax™ ceiling system into our products, we are directly addressing market needs, and will continue to do so with new partnerships, products, and services over the coming months.”

==Ends==

 

About Subzero Engineering

At Subzero Engineering we believe that a data-driven approach to data center design, build, and operation is essential to drive performance and efficiency. To help customers achieve this, we provide customized, streamlined, and energy efficient containment solutions that result in a lower total cost of ownership, and reduced carbon emissions.

https://www.subzeroeng.com

 

About Armstrong World Industries

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. (AWI) is a leader in the design and manufacture of innovative commercial and residential ceiling, wall, and suspension system solutions in the Americas.  With $937 million in revenue in 2020, AWI has about 2,800 employees and a manufacturing network of 15 facilities plus six facilities dedicated to its WAVE joint venture.

https://www.armstrongceilings.com/commercial/en/

 

Download the press release – here.

 

AisleFrameContainmentcontainment solutiondata centerefficiencyEssential Plus+essential seriesEssential Structureperformancereduced containment costs
Subzero Engineering Announces New Essential Series Data Center Containment Solutions, Designed for Increased Functionality and Speed of Deployment

Subzero Engineering Announces New Essential Series Data Center Containment Solutions, Designed for Increased Functionality and Speed of Deployment

  • Essential Series provides adaptable, quick-to-deploy and cost-effective data center containment for hyperscale, supercomputing and enterprise facilities.
  • The vendor-neutral products have been engineered to enable data center design flexibility, with ease of customization and ordering.
  • Offers the high quality design synonymous with the Subzero Engineering brand, at a more accessible price point.

Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, 23rd  March, 2021Subzero Engineering, a leading provider of data center containment solutions, has today announced that it has launched its Essential Series product line; offering hyperscale, colocation, high performance computing (HPC) and enterprise data center operators a vendor-neutral, quick-to-deploy and flexible containment system, at an accessible price point. Available globally, in three scalable form factors, the Essential Line, Essential+ and AisleFrame solutions provide end-users with a standardized containment architecture, which can accommodate any rack, server or storage requirement.

By utilizing a flexible, standards-based approach to design and installation, the Essential Series helps operators to quickly scale or retrofit their facility with a solution that drives both performance and energy efficiency. Further, by utilizing Subzero hot or cold aisle containment systems, data center customers can reduce PUE by 0.4 on average and save approximately 29% on energy costs.

“The Essential Series was born from fifteen years of data center design and engineering experience, and a strong track record for helping customers improve performance and PUE,” said Sam Prudhomme Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “With growing demands for a flexible, low-cost and high-quality data center containment line, the Essential Series offers the perfect mix of blue collar functionality and innovation, wrapped in world-class customer service.”

 

The foundations of performance and efficiency
Subzero Engineering Essential Series products are engineered to be ultra-efficient, quick to deploy, and offer reduced containment costs of up to 30%. The Essential Series uses high quality materials with standardized sizes to minimize lead times, allowing customers to meet demanding timescales with a reliable solution. Subzero have also taken the guesswork out of choosing a containment solution, with the Essential Series customers simply select the type of door (hinged or sliding, dual or single), the size of the roof or length of the aisle, and add how many racks or panels are needed.

 

Essential Plus+
The Essential Plus+ system allows data center customers to quickly upgrade their containment products and design experience. Available upgrades include pre-engineered customizations, upgraded materials, increased functionality, white glove on-site support, and an extended lifetime warranty.

 

AisleFrame – The Essential Structure
The Essential Structure is a highly adaptable infrastructure conveyance system, facilitating advanced scalability in middle infrastructure construction. There are endless design, configuration and functionality possibilities with Essential+ Upgrades. Not only is the engineering behind the Essential Structure simple, efficient, and straight forward, so is the pricing structure. Essential Structure pricing is determined by identifying four simple project requirements: frame type (normal or seismic), load requirements (regular, medium, high), rack sizing (5, 10, 15, or 20 racks), and Essential Plus+ upgrades.

“With its lower price point and design flexibility, Subzero is able to offer fifteen years of engineering experience and energy efficient data center solutions to a broader marketplace,” said Andy Connor, Channel Director, EMEA. “And with manufacturing facilities in the USA and Europe, the company is perfectly positioned to offer high-quality systems with a reduced lead time, helping customers to quickly overcome supply chain issues and reduce their total cost of ownership.”

The Subzero Engineering Essential Series is available globally via our channel partners.

Download the press release – here.

 

AisleFrameContainmentcontainment solutiondata centerefficiencyEssential Plus+essential seriesEssential Structureperformancereduced containment costs
Data Center Sustainability – Why it’s all about the data

Data Center Sustainability – Why it’s all about the data

Andy Connor – Channel Director, EMEA, Subzero Engineering

In 2020, the Uptime Institute’s, Andy Lawrence stated, “The average power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio for a data center is 1.58, only marginally better than 7 years ago.”

This revelation may come as a welcome shock, and while it might be overstating the situation to characterise data center energy usage as the Internets ‘dirty secret’, there’s little doubt that the reality of the sectors carbon impact has been masked by the many headlines which focus solely on its sustainability successes.

Colt Data Centre Services, for example, recently announced that its operations across Europe are now fully powered by 100% renewable energy, while many members of the U.S. hyperscale community are publicly revealing their latest renewable energy projects and initiatives. Carbon offsetting is another idea quickly embraced by end-users, vendors and operators of all shapes and sizes, and while all of these activities, in part, contribute to data center sustainability improvements, they do not directly address the issue of data center power consumption.

Data Center Power Usage
Today there are many estimates as to the amount of power that data centers across the globe consume on an annual basis. Energy Innovation estimates that, in 2018, data centers likely consumed 205 terrawatt-hours (TWh), which equates to 1% of total global electricity. However, the authors of a paper published in ‘Global Energy Interconnection’ in June 2020 state that ‘data centers will become the world’s largest users of energy consumption, with the ratio rising from 3% in 2017 to 4.5% in 2025’.

The data differs again in the January 2020 Uptime Institute Journal, which reports EU data center energy consumption figures of 130 TWh in 2017, alongside Greenpeace’s 2018 Chinese data center figure of 160 TWh, which makes for a combined total of 290 TWh for China and Europe alone!

The fact is that as data center capacity increases, so will energy usage. And while we may not agree on the exact numbers, few would argue about the direction of travel. So what can we do to change the trajectory, and how can we begin to pinpoint consistency within sustainable strategies?

A Change In Demand
Demands for digital transformation are a key factor behind data center energy consumption, but rather than overload you with a tsunami of data, I would urge you to take a short time out to consider just how essential information technology has become to almost every factor of everyday life.

Take a typical workday, how do you communicate with colleagues, what does your role entail? Then think about your plans for the weekend (lockdown not withstanding), have you thought about the films you’ll watch, the apps you might use, or your personal connection to a data center?

Now try and imagine a future that also includes artificial intelligence (AI), augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR), what impacts will this digital consumption have on the data center industry, and what does it mean for sustainability?

Those are big questions, many of which people outside the sector won’t have considered, but the answer may lie within a recent data center industry initiative to show us the way forward. Recently 25 companies and 17 associations across Europe joined together to sign the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, with the objective of making data centers climate neutral by 2030.

There’s clearly a growing momentum behind sustainability, but the industry needs to move beyond the environmental easy wins of the past few years and to start to address the factors that really address efficiency and PUE ratings – those which have hardly changed in seven years.

There’s also the question of is PUE truly enough to measure our carbon impact, so with this in mind, where can we begin?

Beginning With The Data
Back in 2005, Subzero Engineering started life as a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) consultancy. At the time, a large percentage of the industry were using raised floors and experiencing issues with leakages. Yet, with a simple to use and accurate software solution we were able to show customers how they could analyse their data center infrastructure and take steps to both improve efficiency and reduce their environmental impact.

Fast-forward sixteen years and that approach has stayed with us. Today we’re an engineering-led solutions provider that helps world-leading businesses achieve a lower carbon footprint, greater efficiency, reduced operating costs and exceptional performance – and it all starts with the data.

For example, by showing customers the hot and cold air influences within their data center and helping them to analyse, optimise and retrofit their facilities, we believe we can help them find the perfect balance between sustainability and performance.

The proof is in the outcomes and today we keep a live record of the annual energy savings we’ve achieved for our customers. To-date they include:

  • Total savings: $332M
  • Total kW savings: 356kW
  • Total kWh savings: 3BN kWh
  • H2O savings (gallons): 1.5BN
  • CO2 reductions (tons): +3M

However, while these data points show some of the gains that can be made by focusing on sustainability, two questions remain; how do organizations become more energy conscious, and what are the next steps they can take to become more sustainable?

Defining Next Steps
At Subzero Engineering we believe that beginning with a data-driven CFD report is the first step, and offers data center operators insight into how to drive efficiencies across all areas of their facility. This is not limited to airflow; it includes the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), Computer Room Air Conditioners (CRAC), racks, IT and cooling fan speeds.

A CFD analysis also shows them how they can achieve a higher rack density, more computing power and help increase the operating temperature to gain both a higher performing and more streamlined, efficient data center.

This information is invaluable, offering both a starting point and a medium for creating a strategy that balances performance and efficiency. It also offers a means of truly understanding what kind of return on investment (ROI) they can expect from improving sustainability, especially in terms of reductions in energy and water usage, and lower carbon emissions.

Looking Forward
Today energy efficiency and sustainability objectives have become key drivers for owners and operators. Subzero has always been a sustainability-engineering organization; it just so happens that in recent years ‘sustainability’ has become a key talking point for the industry.

Coming back to the data, a paper authored by Anders S.G. Andrae once presented three possible scenarios for data center electricity usage (TWh) by 2030. The best-case figure is 1,137; the expected figure is 2,967; and the worst case is 7,933. As an industry we cannot let the latter become a reality.

In the absence of the grown-up sustainability conversation that needs to happen soon, where more businesses and consumers become fully aware of the environmental consequences of their digital footprint, I believe more and more pressure will force our industry to perform better.

Sustainability, however, begins with data-driven action, and a free CFD analysis is a perfect place to start.

To learn more about modernizing or driving data center sustainability with the help of Subzero Engineering, connect with a local technical expert here.

This blog was first published on Intelligent CIO Europe in March 2021. To read the original online, click here.

CFDComputational Fluid DynamicsContainmentdata centerdata center power usageEnergy EfficiencyPUE
Containment Helps Data Centers Go Green

Containment Helps Data Centers Go Green

A Subzero White Paper by Gordon Johnson

Data centers are a huge part of today’s economy, with both businesses and people connected 24/7. However, along with this usage comes a huge drain on our energy resources. Recent studies show that energy consumed by data centers in the U.S. alone has doubled over the last five years. With the growth of cloud computing and High Performance Computing (HPC) and the energy required to operate them, this trend is not disappearing anytime soon. Fortunately, many realize that this high level of energy consumption cannot continue indefinitely, and the push for greener and more environmentally friendly data centers is being taken seriously.

What can data center and facility managers do to stop this runaway train? While there are several options to get greener and thus lower the overall cost to operate a data center, this paper specifically focuses on containment. Why? Containment is the fastest, easiest, and most cost effective strategy to going green while simultaneously lowering operating costs without adding additional CapEx to the data center. In addition, containment makes other options either possible or economically feasible. This paper will show why this is true, while discussing the following topics:

  • Why Being Green Matters
  • Containment is the Smallest Action with the Greatest Outcome
  • Containment = High Efficiency = Green Data Center
  • Containment’s Role in HPC
  • Efficiency: Full Containment Versus Partial Containment
  • Efficiency: Cold Aisle Containment Versus Hot Aisle Containment
  • CFD Predicts Energy Savings & Environmental Footprint

Read the full white paper.

 

About the Author
Gordon Johnson is the Senior CFD Engineer at Subzero Engineering, and is responsible for planning and managing all CFD related jobs in the U.S. and worldwide. He has over 25 years of experience in the data center industry which includes data center energy efficiency assessments, CFD modeling, and disaster recovery. He is a certified U.S. Department of Energy Data Center Energy Practitioner (DCEP), a certified Data Centre Design Professional (CDCDP), and holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. Gordon also brings his knowledge and ability to teach the fundamentals of data center energy efficiency to numerous public speaking events annually.

ContainmentData Center ContainmentEnergy EfficiencyPUEroi
Data Center Containment 101

Data Center Containment 101

A Subzero White Paper by Gordon Johnson

Regardless of if we’re entering a data center for the first time or have been doing so for
years, most data centers have something in common. As you walk through rows of racks,
you’ll alternate between cold and hot aisles. You’ll hear expressions like “CRACs”, “PUE”,
“White Space”, “Cold Aisle Containment”, “Hot Aisle Containment”, and many more. The
purpose of this White Paper is to assist those new to the data center and those assigned
with making key decisions to get the most out of existing “legacy” and newly designed data
centers.

Since energy efficiency and data reliability are key goals for anyone managing or associated
with data centers, how can we achieve both in the shortest amount of time while getting
the quickest ROI (Return of Investment)? When is it more appropriate to use one type of
containment instead of another type? Which saves more money? This paper will answer
these and other questions.

Read the full white paper.

About the Author
Gordon Johnson is the Senior CFD Engineer at Subzero Engineering, and is responsible
for planning and managing all CFD related jobs in the U.S. and worldwide. He has over
25 years of experience in the data center industry which includes data center energy
efficiency assessments, CFD modeling, and disaster recovery. He is a certified U.S.
Department of Energy Data Center Energy Practitioner (DCEP), a certified Data Centre
Design Professional (CDCDP), and holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
from New Jersey Institute of Technology. Gordon also brings his knowledge and ability
to teach the fundamentals of data center energy efficiency to numerous public speaking
events annually.

ContainmentData Center ContainmentEnergy EfficiencyPUEroi
Containment’s Role in Energy Efficiency and Rapid ROI

Containment’s Role in Energy Efficiency and Rapid ROI

A Subzero White Paper by Gordon Johnson

Everyone today is interested in saving money, and that’s especially true in data centers. Between the cost of electricity and the increasing trend for higher power densities per rack (20 kW and above is no longer uncommon), the desire to be energy efficient and to reduce cost on the annual utility bill is a major concern throughout the data center industry.

So what can be done to save energy and thus save money? How can we lower our PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) while increasing energy efficiency without sacrificing reliability? What technology will deliver a rapid ROI, often between 6 and 18 months? Containment is the answer.

How does containment provide energy savings for data centers? Is there a way to estimate the annual savings and PUE for containment installations? This White Paper will provide an answer to these questions.

Read the full white paper.

 

About the Author
Gordon Johnson is the Senior CFD Engineer at Subzero Engineering, and is responsible for planning and managing all CFD related jobs in the U.S. and worldwide. He has over 25 years of experience in the data center industry which includes data center energy efficiency assessments, CFD modeling, and disaster recovery. He is a certified U.S. Department of Energy Data Center Energy Practitioner (DCEP), a certified Data Centre Design Professional (CDCDP), and holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. Gordon also brings his knowledge and ability to teach the fundamentals of data center energy efficiency to numerous public speaking events annually.

ContainmentData Center ContainmentEnergy EfficiencyPUEroi
Seeing is Believing

Seeing is Believing

Subzero Data Center cold and/or hot aisle containment is the best way to lower intake temperature to IT equipment.

What the Evidence Shows in Real Time

The IBM data center efficiency group in New York wanted the same proof. Gerry Weber an engineering consultant at IBM along with other monitoring technicians recorded a time-lapse video that shows the containment install along side of the temperature changes.

In the video, you can see the temperature dropped nearly 14 degrees in a 5 hour period! What the video does not display is that the temperature across the face of the IT intake did not vary more than one degree.

Subzero Engineering has similar data from numerous data centers with an average of a 10 degree in supply temperature. At the same time the intake Relative Humidity Levels were increased by over 20%.

What does this mean for data center operators?

  1. Consistent supply temperatures
  2. Increase use of rack space due to consistent supply temperatures at the top of the rack.
  3. Predictable supply temperatures make it easy to anticipate cooling solutions when an increase of thermal load or kW is introduced to the space.
  4. Maximize cooling efficiency by adopting ASHRAE increase in temperature.
  5. Convert cooling energy to IT equipment.
Cold Aisle ContainmentContainmentCooling EfficiencyCooling Energydata centerData Center Containmentdata center coolingEnergy EfficiencyHot Aisle ContainmentIBMSubzero EngineeringSupply Temperatures
The Role of CFDs in Containment

The Role of CFDs in Containment

Data center airflow management engineers have used Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) programs for years to determine the complicated movement of airflow in data centers. CFD models pinpoint areas where airflow can be improved in order to provide a consistent cooling solution and energy savings.

We interviewed Gordon Johnson who is a certified data center design professional, Data Center Energy Practitioner (DCEP), CFD and electrical engineer regarding the use of CFD’s and containment.


Gordon, what is the principle way CFD’s are used with regard to containment?

We use CFD’s to determine two basic data sets. The first is the baseline, or the current airflow pattern. This initial CFD model shows supply intake temperatures to each cabinet. This model also determines the effectiveness of each AC unit as it relates to airflow volume, return air temperature, delta T, and supply air temperature.

The second model is the proposed design of the CFD engineer who uses the information from the base model to enact airflow management best practices to separate supply from return airflow. Typically several models are created in order to adjust airflow volume, set point temperatures, and adjust individual aisle supply volume.


Gordon, Are there situations in which the CFD engineer does not recommend containment?

Not really, because the entire basis of airflow management is the full separation of supply and return airflow. Anytime these two airflows mix there is a loss of energy and consistent supply temperature to the IT thermal load.

We have seen CFD’s used by manufactures to prove product effectiveness. What are some ways CFD’s are made to exaggerate product effectiveness?

Exaggerations usually stem from the principle known as GIGO, short for Garbage In, Garbage Out. This refers to the fact that computers operate by logical processes, and thus will unquestioningly process unintended, even nonsensical input data (garbage in) and produce undesired, often nonsensical output (garbage out).

Let me give you an example. Recently I recreated a CFD model that was used to explain the effectiveness of airflow deflectors. The purpose of the CFD was to show the energy savings difference between airflow deflectors and full containment. We found that certain key data points were inserted into the models that do not reflect industry standards. Key settings were adjusted to fully optimize energy savings without regard to potential changes to the environment. Any potentially adverse effects to the cooling system’s ability to maintain acceptable thermal parameters, due to environmental changes, are not revealed in the CFD model. Thus, the model was operating on a fine line that could not be adjusted without a significant impact on its ability to cool the IT load.


Can you give us any specifics?

The airflow volume was manually changed from 1 kW at 154 CFM to 1 kW at 120 CFM. Industry standard airflow is 154 CFM. The formula most commonly used is as such:

Calculation

120 CFM airflow does not give the cooling system any margin for potential changes to the environment.

Another key area of unrealistic design is the placement of cabinet thermal load and high volume grates. The base model places high kW loads in specific, isolated areas surrounded by high volume grates. What then happens, if additional load is placed in areas of low volume airflow? Any changes to the rack kW in areas without high volume grates could not be accounted for. At the end of the day, any changes to the IT load would require an additional airflow management audit to determine what changes would affect the cooling solution. Thus, the proposed model is unrealistic because no data center would propose a cooling solution that would require regular modifications.


Are you recommending a CFD study every time you make changes to the data center thermal load?

No. a full separation supply and return airflow eliminates the guesswork with regards to the effect of air mixture. It also eliminates the need of specific high volume perforated tiles or grates to be placed in front of high kW loads. Instead, a CFD model would incorporate expected increases to the aisle thermal load. This falls in line with the “plus 1” kind of approach to cooling. Creating a positive pressure of supply air has many additional benefits, such as lowering IT equipment fan speed, and ensuring consistent supply temperature across the face of the IT intake.

Data centers should not be operated with little margin for changes or adjustments to the thermal load. That is why I always recommend a full containment solution with as close to 0% leakage as possible.  This is always the most efficient way to run a data center, and always yields the best return on investment. The full containment solution, with no openings at the aisle-end doors or above the cabinets, will easily allow the contained cold aisles to operate with a slightly greater supply of air than is demanded.  This in turn ensures that the cabinets in the fully contained aisle have a minimum temperature change from the bottom to the top of the rack, which allows the data center operator to easily choose predictable and reliable supply temperature set points for the cooling units.  The result?  Large energy savings, lower mean time between failures, and a more reliable data center.


What do you recommend as to the use of CFD studies and containment?

It’s important to create both an accurate baseline and a sustainable cooling solution design. This model will give data center operators a basis for an accurate representation of how things are being cooled. The proposed cooling solution can be used in numerous ways:

  • Accurate energy savings
  • Safe set point standards
  • Future cabinet population predictions
  • The ability to cool future kW increases
  • Identify and eliminate potential hot spots

Subzero Engineering endorses accurate and realistic CFD modeling that considers real world situations in order to create real world solutions.

Airflow ManagementCFDCold Aisle ContainmentComputational Fluid DynamicsContainmentdata centerData Center Containmentdata center coolingGordon JohnsonHot Aisle ContainmentLarry MainersSubzero Engineering