Data centers run warmer in China, Hong Kong

Data centers run warmer in China, Hong Kong

Summary: Data centers managers in China and Hong Kong are comfortable running their facilities at a higher temperature, indicating that equipment can still operate efficiently at warmer temperatures and, hence, consume less energy.


Data centers managers in China and Hong Kong run their facilities at a higher temperature than their global counterparts, assured that this would not affect the performance of their equipment. 

data centers
Warmer datacenter environments can lead to less energy consumption, and lower costs.

According to a survey conducted by energy management vendor Enlogic Systems, over 85 percent of data center administrators in Greater China were comfortable running their site at 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Farenheit) and higher. This went against a common belief that lower temperatures were necessary to keep systems cool and running more efficiently, with less risks of downtime. 

The survey polled attendees at the DatacenterDynamics conferences held in Hong Kong in July, and in Shanghai in September, pulling some 70 respondents. 

Some 60 percent of Hong Kong respondents felt it was safe to run data centers at up to 25 degrees C, while 51 percent in Shanghai felt likewise for temperatures of up to 30 degrees C. In comparison, the 2013 Uptime Institute Data Centre Industry Survey revealed only 7 percent of administrators worldwide operated their data centers at 23.8 degrees C or higher. The survey in 2011 revealed that 15 percent of data centers ran in temperatures below 18.3 degrees C. This figure dropped to just 6 percent of respondents the following year. 

According to Enlogic, its survey findings indicated that more now realized data centers could operate efficiently at higher temperatures. It pointed to the ASHRAE TC9.9 global standard for datacenter operating conditions, which states the "allowable range" in temperatures at between 15 and 32 degrees C, while the "recommended range" sits between 18 and 27 degrees C.

Mike Jansma, Enlogic's co-founder and CMO, said in the survey findings released Wednesday: "Datacenter operators in the Greater China region could well lead the way toward establishing greener data centers with this awareness that a data center can operate efficiently even at a higher temperature.

"The data center industry is booming in Asia, especially in Greater China, and power consumption will be enormous so every little saving in energy use counts," Jansma said, noting that since most data centers in the Chinese market were comparatively new, there were opportunities to tap advanced tools to more intelligently measure energy and power use."

According to 451 Research Group, in a 15-year cost of ownership for data centers, energy costs accounted for around 30 percent of overall infrastructure costs.

IT vendors have been looking at ways to build equipment that would enable data center facilities to be operated at higher temperatures. Intel, for instance, brought in Korean mobile operator KT to trial a technology that would allow data centers to operate at over 38 degrees C. This was expected to help reduce energy costs by 7 percent for every 1 degree C raised. Hitting the target of 38 degrees C would yield annual savings in energy costs of US$7.5 million. 

Topics: Data Centers, China, Hong Kong


Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently a freelance blogger and content specialist based in Singapore, she has over 16 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings.

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  • Hard evidence?

    It should be fairly simple to compare failure rates of equipment between traditionally cooled datacenters and the warmer datacenters, assuming equipment housed by each are fairly similar in standards and environmental needs. This comparison seems like the logical next step, so why didn't they do it?
  • Ambient air temp is an invalid Metric.

    The ambient air temperature of a data center is a meaningless statistic.
    The only temperature worth measuring is the core temperature of the electrical component. (ie CPU, Controller chip, Memory, disk etc.

    Then you need to consider the temperature gradient & efficiency of the cooling devices / heatsinks. More efficient devices can dissipate the heat with a lower temp gradient. (ie don't need the air/water to be as cold.
    (maybe cooling air as warm as 40 deg could be sufficient to keep the electronics internal temp below 65 deg.)

    Then consider the waste air path. Consider pushing cold air via ducts from bottom & expel hot air into a Hot Corridor. ie 2 banks of Servers push their waste into a central corridor. The Temps of the "Hot Corridor" could be 20 degrees warmer than the cooler outer corridors.
    Or completely seal the server rack, blow from the bottom & expel air from the top of the rack. Don't cool the rest of the air in the data center at all.
    Most importantly, whenever external air temp drops below your threshold, pull it in from the atmosphere & don't cool it at all. But be careful of pollution; salt from the sea air, or acidic pollution from industry can damage hot electrical connections.