Google Servers Running Despite Untouchable Temperatures
Increasing the temperature of server racks obviously allows a data center to become more effective. However, what happens when the room gets so hot that it becomes unfit for people?
At Google‘s data center in Belgium, when a condition like this arises, Google’s employees fall back to climate controlled zones of the facility. The Belgium data center is the company’s first facility to depend completely upon fresh air for cooling, as opposed to the massive air-conditioning units utilized in standard facilities. The change in cooling dynamics has allowed the Belgium facility to become Google’s top data center in terms of efficiency.
For more than half of the year, the weather in Belgium stays within a range that allows Google’s design to function with zero problems. However, when the weather gets hot, temperatures within the data center quickly rise beyond the recommended operating range — Google frequently refers to these periods as “excursion hours.”
Staff Flees from High Temperatures
During this time, it’s not uncommon for the temperature inside the data center to climb above 95 degrees. At that point, Google employees leave the server area.
“We’ve been operating in Belgium since 2008 with no chillers,” said Joe Kava, Senior Director of Data Center Operations for Google. “We’ve had very few excursion hours, and they don’t last long, so we let the site run right through them. We ask our employees to go in and do office work. It’s too warm for people, but the machines do just fine.”
Google’s relatively new-found experience has shown the world that servers are much more capable at handling the heat than we initially thought they were. A massive portion of today’s data centers can be compared (temperature-wise, of course) to something of a meat locker: the servers are managed in exceptionally cool environments in order to counterbalance the heat that is put off by the parts within chassis. The average range of temperatures for a data center is somewhere around 68 to 72 degrees.