Things you don't do to data centres

Here's one that'll raise some eyebrows among CIOs - Intel has been experimenting with datacentre cooling - by turning off the air conditioning, and cooling high density racks just with fresh desert air

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By  Mark Sutton Published  September 20, 2008

Here's one that'll raise some eyebrows among CIOs - Intel has been experimenting with datacentre cooling - by turning off the air conditioning, and cooling high density racks just with fresh desert air.

In the ten month experiment, which ran til August in the New Mexico desert, Intel researchers used an air economizer - which simply pumps in outside air with only a basic filter - to cool a data centre. Unlike a typical air conditioner which recycles the same 'inside' air for cooling, the economizer pumps in outside air, and expels it out the other end.

The results - the economizer, which was used for 91% of the time during the experiment,  gave an estimated 68% power saving over a comparison air conditioner which was used to cool another compartment in the same data centre.

And while the economizer pumped in air at up to 90f (32c) and 30% humidity, with just a standard filter that didn't catch fine dust, Intel says it recorded no consistent increase in server failure.

Although the desert climate in the experiment location was described as temperate desert, without the same extremes of humidity and temperature we get in this part of the world, the conditions were not so different. Intel stresses that this was just an initial experiment, so perhaps its not a good idea to go opening windows in the data centre just yet, but if the results can be replicated, who knows what it might mean for datacentre deployments?

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