Today’s high density data centers also need a high density power infrastructure. Why are high density PDUs and other power equipment necessary?
With the majority of servers and other equipment designed for high density applications, it has become crucial to ensure that data center managers are knowledgeable about the density requirements of their power products. A rack populated with anywhere from 8kW to 10kW worth of electronics can be defined as a high density rack. However, many modern data centers are designed to support approximately 2kW to 4kW per rack. This is troublesome because exceeding the intended density of the rack can cause the equipment to fail due to overheating or overloading. It can also eliminate any redundancy your system may have had. The result is, at best, downtime, and at worst, damaged electronics.
Utilizing high density power products such as PDU’s and UPS’s help to ensure that power coming into your rack is appropriately distributed among the equipment in the rack. Having Power Distribution Racks (PDR’s) along the rows is also a beneficial addition to high density data centers. As the form factor of IT equipment shrinks, the number of power cables within the rack increases, often becoming unmanageable. It can also become costly to make the necessary power drops into each cabinet in these types of environments. PDR’s allow you to distribute three-phase power to the racks in that row, providing more power with fewer cords, which in turn optimizes thermal management.
What are some of the most common mistakes made when setting up a high-density power infrastructure?
When creating a high-density power infrastructure, one common mistake is to rely too heavily on single-phase, 120V power distribution units within the racks. Data center staff often opt to use 120V power products because they cost less than the three-phase, 208V units. While they often work just fine in standard density applications, they don’t perform well for high density ones.
High-power PDU’s will allow you to connect more pieces of equipment to a single strip, effectively increasing the supply of power yet maintaining a lower ratio of copper and losses than would occur if utilizing multiple low-power PDU’s. Overusing low-power PDU’s also creates excess cabling, which causes poor thermal management.
What are the dangers of not ensuring your power infrastructure keeps pace with the servers and other equipment in your data center?
By not implementing at least a high density zone, you run the risk of limiting your growth potential. Much of today’s newer IT equipment cannot effectively operate on a standard density power design. When you look into integrating newer equipment into your racks, you will find that the required surplus power might not exist, prohibiting you from adding new equipment. Or, you may add new equipment anyhow, and then begin to experience downtime due to equipment failures or a lack of redundancy. It is unlikely that you will need to redesign your entire data center to a high density infrastructure, but at minimum incorporating a zone will allow you to utilize newer and more energy efficient equipment as needed.
What should I look for in high density power equipment?
A quality UPS or PDU will offer both a local and a remote load meter, allowing you to view the current load, and alert you if the recommended load is exceeded, or is heading towards it. These systems will also have reporting functions so that you can review historic power consumption trends, which is beneficial if you are looking to implement new equipment – this allows you to pinpoint where you have the excess power to do so.
Generally, on-line UPS’s are ideal for high density applications, and will have features such as voltage and frequency regulation, self-testing to ensure that the internal batteries are all functional, and a scalable design.
What are the steps related to implementing a high density power infrastructure?
- First, you should review your current power consumption, assuming you have implemented “smart” PDU’s and UPS’s to do so. This will help you evaluate your future needs, and allow you to determine if any of your existing racks require a density upgrade. From here on out, you should expect that all future equipment purchases would serve to create a high density infrastructure.
- Secondly, by anticipating the future growth of the data center, you can design a high density zone; according to Gartner, Inc., this zone should accommodate approximately 20-25% of the floor space in your data center.
- Once you have determined the size of the zone (number of rack it will contain, etc.), you can begin to research and procure the appropriate high density power products!
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