Keeping Cool

May 1, 2007 By: Melanie Martella, Sensors Sensors

If you've ever worked while resting a laptop computer on your lap, you know that computers emit heat, and the more powerful the computer, the greater the heat produced. This is a problem because electronics really don't enjoy elevated temperatures. A hot computer is a slow computer or, worse, a computer that will cease functioning. That's why it's so important to maintain cooling in commercial data centers—huge rooms full of racks upon racks of computer

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CHALLENGE: Keeping data centers cool. (Click image for larger version)

servers, designed to keep critical data and software applications safe. Server farms, with their need for power and cooling, have an energy density of up to 20 times that of an average office building. Although keeping the equipment cool is a priority, data center air-conditioning systems typically overcool portions of the data center because they can't target which areas need more (or less) cooling; all that extra energy usage is expensive.

Federspiel Controls, which provides consulting services and specializes in smart energy management systems, teamed up with Dust Networks to create a smarter way to manage data center cooling. Dust's wireless mesh networking modules are embedded in the Federspiel Advanced Control System (FACS) and hung from the data center ceiling. Sensor probes placed to measure temperature at critical locations are connected to the wireless modules, relaying the temperature of each aisle to the FACS, which automatically adjusts the temperature and amount of cold air produced by the cooling units. Because the modules are wireless, reconfiguring the server room layout is easy. According to Federspiel, initial engineering analysis indicates that for a 38,000 sp. ft. data center, FACS can save 1.6 million kWh of cooling energy per year. Says Cliff Federspiel, founder and president of the company, "The value for our customers is the data center trifecta—save money, improve reliability, and maintain flexibility."

Contact Dust Networks, Hayward, CA; 866-289-3878.

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