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Cool Servers Are A Hot Issue

In electronics-laden environments, heat is a constant enemy, and the battlefront exists wherever servers are found. Users and server manufacturers are sharing an arsenal of weapons designed to beat the heat"especially in servers using today's new, more powerful processors. In fact, the war can be won only if both the equipment and its environment are optimized to keep things cool.

"Heat is always an issue, and, in certain environments, it becomes the biggest issue to overcome," said Tim Dougherty, director IBM eServer Products at IBM Corp., Somers, N.Y. "The classic example today is with blade servers, because you have more things in a smaller space. Also, in data centers, as faster machines came along, much of the floor space was being taken up by cooling facilities."

In data centers, especially those located in urban areas, there is constant pressure to balance the plant's physical confines with the increasing need for cooling. As processing power within servers rises, and blade servers allow for more power per square foot, heat becomes a growing issue.

"The advent of [the newest] servers has created loads in excess of 10,000 watts on a cabinet-by-cabinet basis. In most data centers in operation today, they expected loads from 5,000 to 7,000 watts, max," said Ken Baker, data center infrastructure technologist, Hewlett Packard Co.'s Industry Standard Servers, Palo Alto, Calif.

Server manufacturers are optimizing their designs for heat dissipation. IBM, for example, uses calibrated vector cooling, which specifies that a certain amount of air must be present between the blades. One set of fans pulls air through the chassis and cools all the blades and modules within the unit.

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