Data center facilities pro

Mar 12 2009   11:25PM GMT

Hot aisle cold aisle and chaos air distribution

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

For many years, hot/cold aisle design has been a de facto standard in data center design. But at least one person thinks that was a temporary — and perhaps sub-premium — fix to the problem, and that’s because of chaos air distribution.

Hot/cold aisle design is the concept off aligning IT equipment racks in rows so that the fronts face the fronts and the backs face the back. That way, cool air can come up through a raised floor or from overhead into the cold aisle, enter the front of the servers to cool them, and then exhaust hot air in the hot aisle. It helps prevent the mixing of hot and cold air, which leads to wasted cooling.

But letting that cold and hot air roam free in the hot and cold aisles leads to unpredictability, said Carl Cottuli, a VP of product development for Wright Line. Like a toddler who needs discipline, air in a data center needs better direction so it doesn’t go off and do whatever it feels like. That’s chaos air distribution.

“The real problem all along was not the arrangement of racks, but reliance on chaos air distribution,” Cottuli said at the AFCOM Data Center World conference in Las Vegas this week.

Cottuli said the solution is to contain your hot or cold aisles to guide the air directly to the servers or out of the room. If you can contain both, all the better.

Now, Cottuli does have a specific interest in this. Wright Line builds and sells server cabinets, ceiling plenums and cold aisle containment products that fight this so-called chaos air distribution. But the idea of hot/cold aisle containment is not Wright Line’s alone — a lot of vendors are selling aisle containment products, and a lot of users have bought these products or built their own custom aisle containment systems.

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