How warm can you run your datacenter?

Intel wants you to start to consider running your datacenters almost 30 degrees warmer than you are running them now, citing the huge potential energy savings of such a move.

If you ask Intel, they will tell you that you don't need to keep your datacenter as cool as you probably do, with most operators keeping the air feed into their facilities under 70 degrees. But according to Intel, cranking up the heat won't have a negative impact on your hardware and will generate significant energy savings in your datacenter.

Talking about higher operating temperatures and load balancing technologies that will allow datacenters to run with air temperatures over 100 degrees, Intel is quick to point out the huge energy saving that would accompany such a change, noting that an average increase of only 9 degrees in datacenters worldwide would save an amount of energy equivalent to that used by countries such as Spain or South Africa in a month. But the barriers to adopting high temperature datacenters are significant, ranging from a long established pattern that ‘cooler is better" to the fact that most datacenter hardware providers don't warranty their equipment at the higher temperatures that Intel is proposing.

To address these concerns Intel is doing what companies convinced they are right should; they are running their New Mexico datacenter at an average temperature of 92 degrees, which they say is resulting in a savings of approximately 67 percent when compared to traditional temperature operating costs. And they are negotiating with major datacenter hardware vendors to certify their systems to operate at these higher temperatures. This will also require that the suppliers of other hardware components used within datacenter hardware certify their chips and components to operate at these higher temperatures, so it's not as simple and straightforward a process as one might think. It's also one, that in the short term at least, will likely result in higher costs for the hardware components certified for higher operating temperatures.

But given the small CAPEX cost when compared to OPEX of datacenter hardware, an initially higher purchase price isn't likely to deter datacenter operators if there is a demonstrable benefit.  Now finding employees who want to work in 100 degree plus datacenter equipment rooms is another story altogether...