Greening the micro data center

In my past posts and articles, I’ve discussed techniques for improving the efficiency of data centers, such as DC power distribution, passive cooling, and others. In this post, I’m going to discuss the use of these in the micro data center.

Just what is a “micro” data center? For the purpose of this post, I’m defining this as one to two racks of equipment not designed as data center space. So, can we scale down our green techniques to benefit this type of facility? Yes we can!

The first item is airflow for cooling and separation of intake air from hot exhaust air. Keeping the intake and exhaust air from mixing in a restricted space is difficult. The temptation to simply throw a couple of open racks in such a space is strong, but keeping control of air movement demands enclosed cabinets. Use of chimney style cabinets (that move the air vertically) takes advantage of natural convection and also makes it easy to duct air directly into and out of the cabinet from outside the space, taking advantage of exterior ambient air for cooling.

The DC power plant for this type of installation requires the most efficient rectifier possible, a sealed battery string, and an appropriately sized breaker panel for distribution. The efficiency of the rectifier should be as good as possible to avoid adding any more heat inside the cabinet than necessary. The sealed battery string will eliminated the possibility of a fault causing the batteries to vent explosive hydrogen gas into the cabinet.

Batteries and breaker panel should be located as low in the cabinet as possible for tipping safety but it’s also important to place them so as not to obstruct the air flow to other equipment. Remember, we’re trying to move as much cooling air as possible using as little energy as possible. Passive equipment such as the batteries and breaker panel don’t require cooling but they make great obstructions.

Also, the breaker panel used should be enclosed and the connections of the battery string should be protected. Dropping a tool into a batter string or across buss bars inside a cabinet isn’t recommended.

Just like in a full sized data center, the use of DC power and the elimination of AC transformers will reduce the heat in the cabinet. Since the micro data center is such a restricted space, the effect of the increased efficiency will show up much more obviously. While there is room for error in a large space, there’s very little room for it with everything packed into a cabinet.

Equipment choices also effect the operation of the cabinet. Half length server cases interfere with air flow far less than full length ones, good cable management does also.

Efficiency is the watchword for the green data center and the greater the space restriction, the more critical it becomes.

Vern, SwiftWater Telecom
Data Center, Telecom, Engineering


One response to “Greening the micro data center

  1. Good discussion about applying energy efficient techniques to the micro data center.

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