Signal reference grids in the data center: Superfluous?

Signal reference grids are automatically specified and installed in data centers despite the fact that they are no longer needed by modern IT equipment, contends a white paper from APC-Schneider Electric.

Dec 27th, 2012

A recent white paper from APC-Schneider Electric authored by Neil Rasmussen takes a hard look at "grounding and the use of the signal reference grid in data centers."

The paper contends that signal reference grids are automatically specified and installed in data centers "despite the fact that they are no longer needed by modern IT equipment." Even when installed, they are typically used incorrectly, says Rasmussen. The paper explains the origins of the signal reference grid, the operating principles and limitations, and why they no longer are needed.

From the white paper's introduction: "The signal reference grid (SRG) is a network of copper wires typically installed below a raised floor in a data center. An SRG can also be constructed of flat copper straps, aluminum wires, raised flooring substructure, or in extreme cases, a solid covering of sheet metal. The installation of signal reference grids has been common practice for over 30 years. Further, most data center designs calling for SRGs and their use and expense are not questioned."

"Recently, more and more data centers are being constructed on existing hard-floor environments where SRGs cannot be installed under the floor. The evidence suggests that the lack of SRGs in such installations has given rise to no adverse effects on the operation of the IT equipment. Naturally this leads to the question of why systems can work reliably without an SRG and whether the SRG is ever a necessary or logical expense."

View and download the white paper here.

See also: CFD thermal and airflow simulation improves data center design

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