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The Heat Is On

Server technology may be blazing a trail into the uncharted territories of speed and performance, but how you keep your infrastructure cool is the real burning issue.

Two of the modern IT departments biggest Weapons of Mass Dissipation (WMDs), are the 1U and Blade server. These ultra-dense, ultra-compact devices, developed over the last five years, take up far less space than their traditional rackmounted predecessors. They also increase heat density. While vendors claim that their systems are designed to run efficiently in fully loaded racks, they rarely take into account the impact of these systems on the rest of the data room.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that there are no real standards for designing data center cooling systems that can handle 10 to 12 kilowatts per rack. By the way, 12kW is an incredible amount of generated heat – about the same output as two domestic electric ovens on full blast! You have to do some special things to cool that kind of heat, and if you don’t, you could be in serious trouble.

Both Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD)
and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) have launched lower-power processors, although currently neither have incorporated them into blade servers, for the simple reason that low power means lower performance.

However, Intel plans to add power management technology to its Itanium and Xeon processors so users can set thresholds when the processors can be cycled on and off, thus reducing power. But show me an IT manager who is so satisfied with system performance that he is happy enough to reduce it, and I will show you the ash tray I have on my Lambretta.

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