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A hot spot in a data center is never good news, but it may not be as bad as it seems. In some cases, addressing hot spot means the data center will have to add cooling units to provide additional capacity. Fortunately, in most cases, there are a variety of low-cost steps that may eliminate or reduce hot spots in a data center. Those measures may solve the problem completely. Even if they don’t, they will limit the amount of new cooling capacity required and may buy some time before that capacity is needed.
“Adding capacity is one of the methods to use to curtail any hot spots, but that’s just a big-hammer approach. It may not be necessary to do that,” says Chris Wade, national technical services program manager, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. “Before you add more cooling, you need to first ensure you are utilizing your existing cooling and airflow efficiently.”
The most common issues have to do with airflow. “Just like with any HVAC system, getting cooling air to where your cooling load is, that’s the most basic step,” says Jason Clemente, design engineer, Integrated Design Group.
Here are five budget-minded ways to address hot spots in a data center.
1. Make sure that the raised floor tiles are in the appropriate places, putting perforated tiles where the loads — especially the hot spots — are and solid tiles where there is no load. That will direct more cool air to where it is needed.
2. Take a look under the floor tiles. “A lot of times we go into a facility where the raised floor space is just a bird’s nest of wiring – so clearly the effectiveness of that air distribution is not what it could be,” says Clemente. “That’s another easy opportunity.” Eliminating obstructions in supply air plenum will allow more cool air to reach servers.
3. Consider using blanking panels. If the data center has a hot-aisle, cold-aisle arrangement, blanking panels, also known as filler panels, can be used to cover unused spaces in racks, preventing hot air from recycling into the cold aisle. That will ensure existing cooling capacity is being used more effectively, which can help eliminate hot spots.
4. Make sure that the racks are properly placed in relation to the CRAC units. A hot spot may be the result of a server rack actually being located too close to the nearest CRAC unit, says Wade. If that happens, the supply air velocity coming out of the CRAC may be so great that the cool air bypasses the first rack, leading to a hot spot.
5. Move high-density servers to spread out the cooling load. The first four measures described involved getting cool air to hot servers. But in some cases the best way to eliminate a data center hot spot is to do the reverse. “Sometimes all you have to do is move your servers around to different places and it can easily fix your cooling problem without the high cost of additional cooling systems,” says Wade.
Five Low-Cost Steps To Reduce Hot Spots In A Data Center