Research Suggests There is Too Much Cooling in Data CentersNew research coming out of the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) suggests that data centers may be overly cautious when cooling their data centers.
Bianca Schroeder, a UTSC assistant professor of computer science, argues that server environments can be run in warmer environments without sacrificing their reliability. Turning down the air conditioning could result in substantial savings as a result.
In a paper entitled "Temperature Management in Data Centers: Why Some (Might) Like It Hot" the researcher describes that a typical server environment that is kept between 22 and 25 degrees Celsius could sustain a temperature "much more than that." While previous studies indicated that every 10 degree increase above 21 degrees Celsius will decrease the long-term reliability for a server by 50 percent, the authors of the study claim that higher temperatures either did not prove to show negative effects on the equipment, or the negative effects were "smaller than predicted"."
Specifically, the paper states that for temperatures below 50 degrees Celsius, "the prevalence of latent sector errors increases much more slowly with temperature, than reliability models suggest." Half of the observed servers did not show any effect at all, while the others showed an increase that "is linear rather than exponential."
The paper is based on the study of "more than a dozen data centers at three different organizations." Detailed findings are published in SIGMETRICS'12: 2012 Conference Proceedings Volume: 40 Issue: 01 and is available for $15.
Wolfgang Gruener is a contributor to Tom's IT Pro. He is currently principal analyst at Ndicio Research, a market analysis firm that focuses on cloud computing and disruptive technologies, and maintains the conceivablytech.com blog. An 18-year veteran in IT journalism and market research, he previously published TG Daily and was managing editor of Tom's Hardware news, which he grew from a link collection in the early 2000s into one of the most comprehensive and trusted technology news sources.
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