Helping our customers keep their cool: The Dell Fresh Air Hot House

We are proud to announce the next iteration of the Dell Fresh Air Hot House, an ongoing project at Dell with partner Intel and customer Essor Partners LLC. The Fresh Air Hot House, located in Round Rock, Texas, showcases the extreme temperature and humidity tolerances of off-the-shelf Dell Fresh Air capable hardware while performing at high workload levels in a non-air-conditioned environment.

Dell embarked on the Fresh Air design mission after hearing from our customers. They told us they were challenged for operating expenditure and data center capacity, and they needed a solution. Based on those conversations, we set out to design a server capable of performing continuously up to 35°C (95°F) and for time-based excursion operation up to 45°C (113°F) with humidity up to 90%, covering most of the environmental ranges in the world. Through years of comprehensive research and development, we found that a fresh air cooled data center using our Dell Fresh Air capable hardware could be deployed almost anywhere.

Fresh air cooling requires hardware that can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. The Dell Fresh Air Hot House building uses 100% air-side economization and no chiller, pulling outdoor air into the structure then passing the hot air out with simple blowers. Over the next year we will monitor the hardware in the Dell Fresh Air Hot House and collect performance data calculating data such as usage and cost savings.

Summer temperatures in Round Rock, Texas, are reaching as high as 40°C (104°F), and the equipment inside the Hot House is reaching air intake levels near 45°C (or 113°F). Over the last month the hardware has been performing in these excursion temperature ranges for significant portions of each day. Dell PowerEdge servers are running the financial research application of one of our customers, Essor Partners LLC, as a part of their distributed computer grid, in real-time. Server monitoring is being done through Dell OpenManage Power Center and the use of Dell iDRAC7, which leverages Intel Node Manager technology for platform-level power reporting and capping of Intel chipsets.

Dell Fresh Air capable hardware can allow data centers to run at higher temperatures which could translate into opex savings. With Dell Fresh Air rated IT equipment, eliminating the chiller and related capital expenditures, a data center can realize a net operational savings of approximately $350,000 per megawatt of IT per year. In addition to three Dell PowerEdge Servers we have installed additional Dell hardware, most notably the Dell Networking S60 switch: a high-performance 1/10 GbE access switch with ultra-deep packet buffering. Future Hot House additions include Dell Fresh Air capable hardware from Dell Networking W-Series as well as products from Dell Storage.

For more on Dell Fresh Air capabilities, see the video below:

About the Author: Forrest Norrod