Can you hear me now? Data Center Noise

Susan Wynne for blog By Susan Wynne, Account Manager, Rackmount Solutions, Inc.
  • What are the biggest culprits (the stuff that creates the most noise) of noise in the data center?  Noise is simply a fact of life in the data center world.  The most common culprits are the fans within the servers and equipment and the constant “whoosh” sound of airflow  from the cooling equipment.  As we have witnessed the rapid adoption of consolidation and higher density equipment in the data center, more heat and thus more noise, is an unfortunate product.  Higher density equipment requires more heat dissipation in a smaller space.  Those little fans work hard!
  • What can you do to get a good sense of how noisy your data center really is?   As a starting point, conduct a mock “tour” of your data center with a few other employees. As you walk around the data center, note the areas where the noise seems louder than others, and where it is more difficult to hear the “tour guide.”  A handheld sound meter can be used to measure the decibel levels in these areas (and anywhere else) in the data center.  Measure and record sound levels at various points within the data center, on each aisle, etc.
  • What can you do to tamp down the noise?  There are some very effective sound dampening server cabinets and enclosures available.  Many also have very advanced airflow and heat dissipation characteristics.  Implementing sound dampening cabinets in the areas where the sound level is at its highest can make drastic differences in the overall noise level in the data center.
  • At what point do you have to do something about it (noise levels reaching dangerous levels)?  OSHA suggests that sound levels at or above 85dB may present risk of hearing loss and behavioral problems.  If your sound measurements are at or exceeding this level, additional sound monitoring and noise reduction measures should be taken.

Other articles by Susan Wynne:

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You and Your Equipment:  Cool as a Cucumber

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