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Achieving High Reliability, Energy Efficiency in Data Center Design, Operations

Achieving High Reliability, Energy Efficiency in Data Center Design, Operations 

From ASHRAE Journal Newsletter, March 23, 2021 

From environmental guidelines for air-cooled and liquid-cooled equipment to facility temperature and humidity measurement, the newly updated fifth edition of the first book in ASHRAE’s Datacom Series includes new, industry-pertinent information. 

The fifth edition of Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments has been updated with information “engineers who are engaged in the operation and design of data centers need to know for achieving high reliability and energy efficiency,” said Roger Schmidt, Ph.D., P.E., Member ASHRAE, member of ASHRAE Technical Committee 9.9, Mission Critical Facilities, Data Centers, Technology Spaces and Electronic Equipment

Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments provides equipment manufacturers and data center operations staff with a common set of guidelines for the design and operation of their respective equipment or facility, thereby aiding in maximizing the performance and health of the data center and its contents. 

Authored by TC 9.9, the Datacom series provides guidance of data center cooling and related subjects. 

Schmidt discussed the latest edition with ASHRAE Journal

1. What do engineers need to know about the updated and forthcoming fifth edition?

The fifth edition covers these six major topics—all which engineers who are engaged in the operation and design of data centers need to know for achieving high reliability and energy efficiency:

   1. Environment guidelines for air-cooled equipment
   2. Environmental class for high density air-cooled equipment
   3. Environmental guidelines for liquid-cooled equipment
   4. Facility temperature and humidity measurement
   5. Equipment placement and airflow patterns
   6. Equipment manufacturers’ heat load and airflow requirement reporting 

 2. What are some of the most significant changes/additions to this edition? 

This fifth edition features changes made to the environmental guidelines for air-cooled equipment, resulting from research on the effects of high-relative humidity and gaseous pollutants on the corrosion of information technology equipment (ITE). 

Also, a new environmental class for high-density server equipment is added. One more water-cooling class was added as well as renaming the classes to better represent the maximum allowable facility water temperature.  

3. What is the significance of this topic? 

Gaseous pollutants are a concern for the entire planet. The effects of these pollutants on the reliability of IT equipment are important to understand [as well as] how to measure the pollutants’ effects on the equipment. With little pollutants, a more energy efficient and expanded environmental envelope is available. 

For high levels of pollutants, guidance is given to adjust the environment’s relative humidity (RH) to be more restrictive and to implement a remedy for removal of the pollutants. 

4. Why is it important to explore this topic now? 

The information provided in this fifth edition was not available before; ASHRAE funded this two-year research project, and the results are presented in this fifth edition for the first time.  

5. What ASHRAE research project produced the information for this edition? 

J. Zhang, R. Zhang, R. Schmidt, J. Gilbert, and B. Guo, 2019, Impact of gaseous contamination and high humidity on the reliable operation of information technology equipment in data centers. ASHRAE Research Report 1755, Final Report, Peachtree Corners, GA: ASHRAE. 

6. What lessons, facts and/or guidance can an engineer working in the field take away from this publication? 

One of the key lessons is for all data centers to implement a measurement program. This is simply to place copper and silver coupons in their data centers for one month twice a year. The results from these coupons will show the effects of pollutants and RH on IT equipment housed within the data center.  Those results will give guidance on what environmental envelope to operate the data center. Low levels for pollutants will allow the operation of the data center to run in an expanded environmental envelope, thereby saving energy.