Manufacturers showcase products designed to fight thermal problems in data centers

Manufacturers are coming up with modular integrated solutions designed to tackle the ongoing problem of heat and power density...

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Manufacturers are coming up with modular integrated solutions designed to tackle the ongoing problem of heat and power density in today’s data centers. Thermal problems in the data center continue to rise due to constantly increasing packing densities and increasing computer system processor speeds.

Three enclosure manufacturers unveiled or showcased their latest solutions to meet these problems at the recent CeBIT 2006 show in Hannover, Germany. Most of the product or product families demonstrated a trend toward complete infrastructure solutions, which manufacturers say are essential in a demanding market.

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Rittal's RimatriX5 data center enclosure is designed with an innovative liquid cooling-based solution.
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Michael McGuinness, director of business development, IT, for Rittal Corp. (www.rittal-corp.com), says the modular infrastructure market will grow as demand for more flexible solutions increases, offering alternatives to traditional methods for building robust, reliable data centers.

Rittal, American Power Conversion Corp. (APC; www.apc.com) and Emerson Network Power (www.eu.emersonnetworkpower.com) showed their competing approaches to data center cooling at CeBIT. All three companies touted what they see as the next generation of cooling solutions for the data center.

“The heat loads are going up; it is a fact,” says Jeffery Kauffman, director of IT sales for Rittal. “It is a necessity that they [data center managers] cool this environment.”

Most solutions are integrated, or an entire answer to data center needs-power, cooling, and enclosures.

“It is to have all of the components necessary for a data center in an integrated solution,” says Michael Schumacher, systems engineer for APC.

“These are new products that are meeting new demands,” agrees Marcus Kohler, senior vice president of IT sales for Rittal. “Whatever the customer needs.”

The manufacturers are taking on the demands placed on IT racks in the data center, including tight packaging densities, the need for more space for cable management, flexibility, and a variety of assembly options. The showcased solutions are expandable, and some rely on liquid cooling. While most data center managers “don’t want to have water in the data center,” says Schumacher, “they have a need for ultra high-density cooling-and water is what they need if they want to have ultra-high cooling performance.”

But even as the solutions were unveiled, some data center managers expressed concerns about the speed at which data centers are changing, and the rollover time for new products that will address those changes. Each year, they say, the amount of heat in a data center will increase, as will the amount of equipment in that room. They wonder, will today’s solutions be enough to handle tomorrow’s challenges?

“When you are building on a data center, you try to make a decision that goes for 3 to 5 years,” says Jim McCloud, data center manager for Cox Enterprises (www.coxinc.com). “But the technology is changing, and in 3 to 5 years, the technology is going to be obsolete. So, you have to be able to revise this equipment.”

But McCloud agrees with one thing: Data center managers need a solution that takes a holistic approach to the challenges in the data center. Such a solution provides racks for servers, UPS systems, and effective cooling packages.

“When you look at it from a holistic approach, the data center has multiple dimensions to it,” says McCloud. “This includes power, cooling and floor space. It’s all part of the same problem.”

Enclosure manufacturer Rittal sees the most potential in service, security and cooling. Rittal unveiled the RimatriX5, a new family of products designed to be a complete as well as innovative cooling solution. The integrated package features five coordinated IT modules, including rack, power, cooling, security and remote management.

The RimatriX5 features a UPS system to provide a level of redundancy, and a 6U, self-contained three-phase UPS system. Batteries are swappable, and the systems can grow as IT demands.

“Our market has changed due to the power consumption in the market,” says McGuinness. “This is the increase in the power in the data center, and the densification of servers.”

RimatriX5 features a liquid cooling package designed to solve the problem of high-power dissipation of up to 30 kilowatts (kW) per rack. It is fitted as an environmentally controlled chamber on the side panel of a server rack, providing an even distribution of chilled air, with cold air being blown in horizontally directly in front of the rows of servers, ensuring smooth thermal conditions.

“Cooling is a very big problem,” says Ralf Schneider, director of international product management, Enclosure Climate Control, for Rittal. “Ten or 15 years ago, you would talk about server coolers having ventilated slots. If you have a data center with 8 to 12 racks in it, with 25 servers each, you have more than 30 kW in a rack, and it’s not possible to fix that with air.”

APC, meanwhile, showcased InfraStruXure, a solution that has been on the market for four years. It includes the Netshelter SX enclosure, which is designed to improve cooling efficiency in the enclosure, a self-contained rack, and the Smart UPS unit.

InfraStruXure integrates power, cooling, and environmental management within a rack-optimized design. It features a redundant design that eliminates single points of failure, and has hot-swappable modules designed to lower mean-time-to-recovery.

Contractors who choose the system can install only what is required in their data center today, and then scale it to meet future demands. InfraStruXure features liquid cooling, with an air conditioner unit that integrates cold water into the racks, and a small footprint-600-mm wide and 1070-mm deep.

“Space is a premium in the data center environment,” says Frank Baurmann, country manager for APC. “You need clearance in front.”

For its part, Emerson launched the Liebert X-treme solution at CeBIT-a system designed to be fully-integrated, provide rack cooling and the ability to add on UPS systems. X-treme Density heat removal system is designed to address the higher heat loads generated by densely populated electronic rack enclosures.

“In a normal data center, around 30% of the servers will be blade servers,” says Klaus-Ulrich Kahl, sales director, HPAC Distribution Network, Emerson. “In three to four years, we may have to increase the cooling.”

The Emerson solution can cool more than 500 watts (W) per square foot. Individual modules can improve enclosure airflow or cool hot spots, or zones. The modules in the Liebert XD system use a heat rejection process, using a waterless Liebert XD Coolant that operates at low pressure and becomes a gas at room temperatures, making it especially suitable for use around electronic equipment. Liebert XD is designed to complement the cooling provided by Liebert Deluxe System/3 or Liebert DS.

All of these solutions are poised for a market that will probably move to more extensive thermal problems down the road. Processors will become smaller, but produce more heat as more and more are used.

“The power demand is decreasing, but they are still able to minimize components,” says Schumacher. “The system is becoming more compact, but with higher power ratings.”

Blade servers are another big issue. McGuinness says the market is moving from 5U to 3U to 1U, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be less heat in the data center.

“They [blade servers] will not generate as much heat, but they will pack more into a small space,” says McGuinness. “We see the trend continuing to increase.”

“Power consumption will rise,” agrees Kohler.

A key challenge, manufacturers say, is convincing data center managers that liquid cooling can be a viable and safe way of providing cooling in the data center. Kauffman says the market has been, in many ways, slow to accept liquid cooling solutions.

“Just talking about liquid gives [some] people chills,” says Kauffman. “It is our responsibility to educate the users as to the history of water in the data center as well as its viability in the space today.”

Still, McCloud believes liquid cooling is coming back. Rittal, which introduced liquid cooling packages last year, produces a chiller line to optimize the recooling system. The LCP Plus generates up to 28 kW.

Rittal’s Schneider acknowledges the data center market was hesitant to take the liquid cooling approach.

“People were afraid of using water in their system. But in the long run, with this higher density in the data center, there was no way around that.”

-Brian Milligan


Short runs…

GLENVIEW, IL-“Designing and Managing Today’s Data Center,” the focus of Anixter’s (www.anixter.com) seventh annual National Seminar Series, will run in 17 cities nationwide through November. Keynote presentations will be presented by IBM. Seminar topics will address the design, build, and maintenance of the data center. Information on products, solutions and services will also be provided. All seminars are free. Visit the Anixter Web site for a complete schedule and registration information.

WASHINGTON, DC-The Fiber-to-the-Home Council (www.ftthcouncil.org) and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA; www.tiaonline.org) have released an updated list of “U.S. Optical Fiber Communities,” showing a total of 936 such communities in 47 states that are delivering fiber-based broadband services to residential customers-with 280 communities added since October 2005. More than four million homes have been passed with fiber, with 671,000 homes connected over the last six months. The list is available at either organization’s Web site.

CINCINNATI, OH-A new non-profit professional society has been founded, based on the technology and application of structured cabling. The Structured Cabling Association (SCA; www.scausa.org) is chartered to promote structured cabling through education, certification, and standards. Founder is Tom Collins of Gateway Community and Technical College, while co-founder is Jim Hayes of the Fiber Optic Association. Over the next few months, the SCA plans to introduce programs and certifications based on the input of its boards of directors and advisors, as well as approved trainers and schools.

RICHARDSON, TX-SYSTIMAX Solutions (www.systimax.com) provided some of its enterprise connectivity solutions to connect the InteropNet network at last month’s Interop show in Las Vegas. Exhibitors and show management used the copper and fiber cabling infrastructure to run their exhibitions and Internet services. The backbone of the Network Operations Center was connected via InstaPATCH Plus using multimode, laser-optimized multimode, and singlemode fiber solutions (OptiSPEED, LazrSPEED, and TeraSPEED, respectively). Connectivity to the exhibit floor was provided by the GigaSPEED 10XD solution.

PLEASANTON, CA-Network software solutions provider AdventNet (www.adventnet.com) is integrating ManageEngine OpManager products from American Power Conversion (www.apcc.com) to monitor uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) included in APC’s InfraStruXure systems in the same way they manage their networking infrastructure. The InfraStruXure Manager appliance is designed to provide a comprehensive approach to managing network-critical physical infrastructure, including racks, power, cooling, and physical security. The integration provided by AdventNet, however, now allows customers to manage their data center UPSs from within an existing network infrastructure tool.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-The promise of an entirely wireless home may be accelerated by Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology, according to a recent report-“Ultra Wideband: Market Analysis and Forecasts 2006-2010”--by telecommunications research firm Visiongain (www.visiongain.com). UWB develops, transmits and receives an extremely short duration burst of RF energy that analysts say can provide an inexpensive low-power solution for connecting devices within the home wirelessly. The report suggests that UWB offers a solution to the scarcity of RF spectrum by allowing UWB-enabled services to coexist with current radio systems with minimal or no interference. The technology’s success, however, will hinge on resolving a debate over two possible standards, pitting the likes of Intel and Texas Instruments against such competitors as Motorola and Freescale Semiconductor. In addition, current FCC restrictions of less than 30 feet must be addressed to enable deployment in corporate installations.

SPOKANE VALLEY, WA-The city of North Kansas City, MO is utilizing its existing fiber-optic network, new fiber installation, and World Wide Packets’ (www.worldwidepackets.com) LightningEdge Gigabit Ethernet solution to provide citywide Gigabit-to-the-Premises broadband access. The pioneering network will provide Gigabit Ethernet service to thousands of the city’s residential locations and to more than 800 businesses. LightningEdge is being deployed over two existing fiber-optic rings that were built for the city’s internal use. Additional fiber cable is being installed to support the rings. The network will provide businesses and residences with high-speed e-mail, basic high-speed Internet access, Storage Area Networking, and virus protection.

SAN DIEGO, CA-Commercial ship builder Aker Philadelphia Shipyard Inc., is deploying LightPointe’s (www.lightpointe.com) FlightLite 100E optical wireless link to connect a vital warehouse operation to its corporate network. To streamline operations at the state-of-the-art 100-acre shipyard near the Delaware River, Aker installed a portable warehouse to accommodate efficient delivery of essential materials. An installed RF product, however, was soon found to be unreliable due to interference from nearby Philadelphia Airport, as well as from fog and moisture from the river. The FlightLite solution has overcome the interference issues because it is based on free-space optics (FSO), using beams of light as the primary data path. The license-free technology is also immune to a variety of interference issues that can interrupt RF signals.


Short runs…

GLENVIEW, IL-“Designing and Managing Today’s Data Center,” the focus of Anixter’s (www.anixter.com) seventh annual National Seminar Series, will run in 17 cities nationwide through November. Keynote presentations will be presented by IBM. Seminar topics will address the design, build, and maintenance of the data center. Information on products, solutions and services will also be provided. All seminars are free. Visit the Anixter Web site for a complete schedule and registration information.

WASHINGTON, DC-The Fiber-to-the-Home Council (www.ftthcouncil.org) and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA; www.tiaonline.org) have released an updated list of “U.S. Optical Fiber Communities,” showing a total of 936 such communities in 47 states that are delivering fiber-based broadband services to residential customers-with 280 communities added since October 2005. More than four million homes have been passed with fiber, with 671,000 homes connected over the last six months. The list is available at either organization’s Web site.

CINCINNATI, OH-A new non-profit professional society has been founded, based on the technology and application of structured cabling. The Structured Cabling Association (SCA; www.scausa.org) is chartered to promote structured cabling through education, certification, and standards. Founder is Tom Collins of Gateway Community and Technical College, while co-founder is Jim Hayes of the Fiber Optic Association. Over the next few months, the SCA plans to introduce programs and certifications based on the input of its boards of directors and advisors, as well as approved trainers and schools.

RICHARDSON, TX-SYSTIMAX Solutions (www.systimax.com) provided some of its enterprise connectivity solutions to connect the InteropNet network at last month’s Interop show in Las Vegas. Exhibitors and show management used the copper and fiber cabling infrastructure to run their exhibitions and Internet services. The backbone of the Network Operations Center was connected via InstaPATCH Plus using multimode, laser-optimized multimode, and singlemode fiber solutions (OptiSPEED, LazrSPEED, and TeraSPEED, respectively). Connectivity to the exhibit floor was provided by the GigaSPEED 10XD solution.

PLEASANTON, CA-Network software solutions provider AdventNet (www.adventnet.com) is integrating ManageEngine OpManager products from American Power Conversion (www.apcc.com) to monitor uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) included in APC’s InfraStruXure systems in the same way they manage their networking infrastructure. The InfraStruXure Manager appliance is designed to provide a comprehensive approach to managing network-critical physical infrastructure, including racks, power, cooling, and physical security. The integration provided by AdventNet, however, now allows customers to manage their data center UPSs from within an existing network infrastructure tool.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-The promise of an entirely wireless home may be accelerated by Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology, according to a recent report-“Ultra Wideband: Market Analysis and Forecasts 2006-2010”--by telecommunications research firm Visiongain (www.visiongain.com). UWB develops, transmits and receives an extremely short duration burst of RF energy that analysts say can provide an inexpensive low-power solution for connecting devices within the home wirelessly. The report suggests that UWB offers a solution to the scarcity of RF spectrum by allowing UWB-enabled services to coexist with current radio systems with minimal or no interference. The technology’s success, however, will hinge on resolving a debate over two possible standards, pitting the likes of Intel and Texas Instruments against such competitors as Motorola and Freescale Semiconductor. In addition, current FCC restrictions of less than 30 feet must be addressed to enable deployment in corporate installations.

SPOKANE VALLEY, WA-The city of North Kansas City, MO is utilizing its existing fiber-optic network, new fiber installation, and World Wide Packets’ (www.worldwidepackets.com) LightningEdge Gigabit Ethernet solution to provide citywide Gigabit-to-the-Premises broadband access. The pioneering network will provide Gigabit Ethernet service to thousands of the city’s residential locations and to more than 800 businesses. LightningEdge is being deployed over two existing fiber-optic rings that were built for the city’s internal use. Additional fiber cable is being installed to support the rings. The network will provide businesses and residences with high-speed e-mail, basic high-speed Internet access, Storage Area Networking, and virus protection.

SAN DIEGO, CA-Commercial ship builder Aker Philadelphia Shipyard Inc., is deploying LightPointe’s (www.lightpointe.com) FlightLite 100E optical wireless link to connect a vital warehouse operation to its corporate network. To streamline operations at the state-of-the-art 100-acre shipyard near the Delaware River, Aker installed a portable warehouse to accommodate efficient delivery of essential materials. An installed RF product, however, was soon found to be unreliable due to interference from nearby Philadelphia Airport, as well as from fog and moisture from the river. The FlightLite solution has overcome the interference issues because it is based on free-space optics (FSO), using beams of light as the primary data path. The license-free technology is also immune to a variety of interference issues that can interrupt RF signals.

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