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Hotter might be better at energy-intensive data centres


September 26, 2012
By Anthony Capkun

September 26, 2012 – New research from the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) suggests that turning up the temperature could save energy with little or no increased risk of equipment failure.

“We see our results as strong evidence that most organizations could run their data centres hotter than they currently are without making significant sacrifices in system reliability,” said Bianca Schroeder, a UTSC assistant professor of computer science.

In a paper called “Temperature Management in Data Centres: Why Some (Might) Like It Hot”, Schroeder and her UTSC colleagues found that warmer temperatures than are normally recommended might be able to save energy without negatively impacting equipment reliability and longevity.

Data centres typically operate at temperatures from 20ºC to 22ºC, say the researchers. Estimates show that just 1 degree increase in temperature could save 2-5% percent of the energy the centres consume. Schroeder says that most data centres could probably increase temperatures much more than that.

To conduct the study, the researchers collected data from data centres run by Google, Los Alamos National Labs and others. They also directly tested the effect of temperature on equipment performance in their lab. Their data showed that higher temperatures either weren’t associated with negative effects on the equipment, or else the negative effects were smaller than predicted.

The paper was co-authored by Nosayba El-Sayed, Ioan Stefanovici, George Amvrosiadis and Andy A. Hwang, and can be found HERE.