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How Google Cools Its 1 Million Servers

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the lots-of-misters dept.

Google 87

1sockchuck writes "As Google showed the world its data centers this week, it disclosed one of its best-kept secrets: how it cools its custom servers in high-density racks. All the magic happens in enclosed hot aisles, including supercomputer-style steel tubing that transports water — sometimes within inches of the servers. How many of those servers are there? Google has deployed at least 1 million servers, according to Wired, which got a look inside the company's North Carolina data center. The disclosures accompany a gallery of striking photos by architecture photographer Connie Zhou, who discusses the experience and her approach to the unique assignment."

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87 comments

Let's just say... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715487)

There's a really long cable from South America to Antarctica now.

Re:Let's just say... (1)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | about 2 years ago | (#41715511)

... wich dips into lake Vostok to get water without those pesky little bacteria...

The same way as everybody else. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715517)

Take the heat you produce, and dump it somewhere else.

Be nice if it could be my house! I want to avoid turning the heat on till Thanksgiving if possible, but it's getting a bit tough.

Re:The same way as everybody else. (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#41715629)

Take the heat you produce, and dump it somewhere else.

Sure but there are different ways of doing it.

Google says they have the cold air come up from their raised floor.

Facebook does it differently- the cold air drops down:
http://opencompute.org/2012/08/09/water-efficiency-at-facebooks-prineville-data-center/ [opencompute.org]

I'm no data center engineer but the Facebook way makes more sense to me.

Re:The same way as everybody else. (2)

sjwt (161428) | about 2 years ago | (#41715655)

I'm no thermodynamic engineer, but it seems to me facebook's way would lose out on the fact that the hot air would mingle with the cold air on the way down and warm up a little

Re:The same way as everybody else. (1, Funny)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#41715701)

If you have hot air coming out your servers into the cold aisle you're doing things wrong.

Re:The same way as everybody else. (1)

Cramer (69040) | about 2 years ago | (#41716673)

Hot Aisle Containment. Without it, yes, the cold air would be mixing with rising hot air.

Re:The same way as everybody else. (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#41728927)

I'm no thermodynamic engineer, but it seems to me facebook's way would lose out on the fact that the hot air would mingle with the cold air on the way down and warm up a little

For office or building heating, Facebook's method is completely conventional - A/C comes from the roof tiles and dribbles down to the floor which mixes with the existing warmer office air (which is why A/C is on - in a lot of places, you use A/C year round), creating a somewhat even temperature vertically (the ceiling is not appreciably warmer than the floor - so you don't sweat while the floor gets cold). Likewise, you heat from the floor - the hot air rises, mixing with the colder air below to warm it up evenly vertically (instead of having the hot air stay unusefully at the ceiling while freezing on the floor).

For data centers, I think it's debatable as you have hot and cold aisles to begin with - it might make sense that the top server in a rack doesn't get hotter air than the bottom one (purely because it's warmer up top), as this stratification carries on to the hot aisle (the colder bottom server doesn't make the air as hot as the top server, making the hot aisle have hot air at the top).

Whether or not it affects server lifetime, I can't say.

Re:The same way as everybody else. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715659)

Not particularly, either to the different ways, or the Facebook way.

Heat naturally flows up, cool air dropping down would fight that ventilation effect.

Re:The same way as everybody else. (1)

Skal Tura (595728) | about 2 years ago | (#41727423)

indeed and the heated air raising up and being ventilated out will cause lower pressure -> ie. draw the cold in as well :)

Re:The same way as everybody else. (1)

rriven (737681) | about 2 years ago | (#41717797)

Google says they have the cold air come up from their raised floor.

Google uses a different approach.

Google realized that the so-called cold aisle in front of the machines could be kept at a relatively balmy 80 degrees or so—workers could wear shorts and T-shirts instead of the standard sweaters. And the “hot aisle,” a tightly enclosed space where the heat pours from the rear of the servers, could be allowed to hit around 120 degrees. That heat could be absorbed by coils filled with water, which would then be pumped out of the building and cooled before being circulated back inside. Add that to the long list of Google’s accomplishments: The company broke its CRAC habit.

They also might not have a million servers,

a tiny embossed plaque that reads july 9, 2008. google’s millionth server. But executives explain that this is a cumulative number, not necessarily an indication that Google has a million servers in operation at once

Re:The same way as everybody else. (1)

nobaloney (1012719) | about 2 years ago | (#41722665)

Google realized that the so-called cold aisle in front of the machines could be kept at a relatively balmy 80 degrees or so—workers could wear shorts and T-shirts instead of the standard sweaters. And the “hot aisle,” a tightly enclosed space where the heat pours from the rear of the servers, could be allowed to hit around 120 degrees.

Our Los Angeles DataCenter does similarly; I haven't had to wear a sweater in a datacenter in at least twelve years. We use air, though, rather than water since we do colocation and a water-cooled system isn't as friendly to standard racks and servers which clients often want to install.

We benefit from the Los Angeles outside air temperature; we don't need to run chillers unless the outside temperature is over 72 degrees, and while it's often over that during summer days it's almost always below that at night; I don't believe we ever go over 24 hours in a row with chillers on (but I haven't looked at the data recently, so I'm not sure).

Re:The same way as everybody else. (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 2 years ago | (#41719313)

I thought the Facebook way was to blame it on the users misconfiguring things.

Re:The same way as everybody else. (2)

Gumbercules!! (1158841) | about 2 years ago | (#41719991)

No, that would be the Apple way... In their case we're just holding the data centre wrong.

Re:The same way as everybody else. (1)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#41716955)

Be nice if it could be my house! I want to avoid turning the heat on till Thanksgiving if possible, but it's getting a bit tough.

Figure out a way to efficiently transport low-grade heat long distances (or even extremely efficiently transport it short distances), and you might not get a Nobel prize, but you could get quite wealthy, and even feel good about all the energy the world saves.

Until it's revealed that the materials used cause cancer in cute puppies, but, eh, maybe they won't find out until you're dead.

Re:The same way as everybody else. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41717653)

Be nice if it could be my house!

Isn't that why NYC has steam pipes everywhere? The waste heat from power plants heats buildings. I know this has been done other places. AFAIK it onnly scales in densly populated urban areas like NYC though. Cheap land and easy permitting was probably a bigger concern than what to do with the waste heat. Still though, the possibility of building a development near the plant is intriguing, especially in areas with long winters. You need more than cheap heat to attract residents though. You need something for them to do, and the data centers just don't employ that many people.

They should use the waste heat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715563)

to run a massive array of Steel Stirling Engines [amazon.com] and generate electricity to lower their dependence on the grid.

Re:They should use the waste heat (3, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41715823)

You do understand that the minuscule temperature differential makes this extremely inefficient, right?

Re:They should use the waste heat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41716233)

Yeah, no kidding. The Carnot engine efficiency operating between 80F and 120F is only 7%. After factoring in the inefficiencies of a real mechanical device, you'd be lucky to break even.

I always thought (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715571)

they use the chilling effect from all those DMCA notices they receive.

Google faked some of the pictures (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715585)

Google faked at least one picture. Take a look at this picture. [google.com]

The left-hand side is exact copy of the right-hand side. Take a look at the details: The halos from the lights and the texts in the white labels.

Re:Google faked some of the pictures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715599)

Sure looks like it.

Re:Google faked some of the pictures (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#41715675)

The grill near the first triangular shadow at the bottom, is far more lit on the right. The triangular shadow is also different. However, those labels do seem far too similar...

Nah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715739)

They've just got some really OCD engineers.

Re:Nah (5, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41715915)

No, they have an OCD photographer:

I’m obsessed with everything being symmetrical for all my work, so I cloned over the left servers to the right side. It just bothered me that there would be a hole when usually servers would be there. I wanted it to look beautiful, and symmetry is beautiful to me.

Re:Nah (0)

citizenr (871508) | about 2 years ago | (#41716121)

No, they have an OCD photographer:

I’m obsessed with everything being symmetrical for all my work, so I cloned over the left servers to the right side. It just bothered me that there would be a hole when usually servers would be there. I wanted it to look beautiful, and symmetry is beautiful to me.

oh, so its not fake because .. the photographer faked it?

Re:Nah (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41716291)

I haven't said any such thing.

Re:Nah (1)

NemosomeN (670035) | about 2 years ago | (#41718199)

He's not OCD. Someone with OCD would not have done a shitty job of cloning the two sides. (Look at the thickness of the bottom of the racks, or do what I did, and open two copies of the jpg, flip one horizontally, and flip back and forth between the images.)

Re:Nah (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 2 years ago | (#41719737)

He's not OCD.

I think it depends on perspective.

or do what I did, and open two copies of the jpg, flip one horizontally, and flip back and forth between the images.)

Err nevermind I understand now.

*Wahh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721119)

I didn't marry an Asian girl. That's all I hear with these spiteful comments. I hear the same shit over here (Asia) - jealous asian women that have bad things to say about western men because *wah* I never married a western man...

Human nature..

Re:*Wahh* (1)

NemosomeN (670035) | about a year ago | (#41782781)

What?

Re:Google faked some of the pictures (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41716571)

Not only are the similar, they're mirror images.

Why put [label] [barcode] (left) on half your servers, then [barcode] [label] (right) on the other half?

Also, the UPSs (or whatver they are, grey box on top) are mirrors (do they make left-handed and right-handed ones?)
Perhaps more damning, the bus-bar power take-offs, along the top (middle). Again, left handed and right-handed ones (power cutoff switch).

Re:Google faked some of the pictures (1)

lordmetroid (708723) | about 2 years ago | (#41716675)

furthermore if you look at the shadow reflected by the cables on the floor you will notice they are the exact same shadows on both left and right.

Re:Google faked some of the pictures (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#41718563)

I agree it's a been flipped (the labels make no sense otherwise), but that grill is different (or my eyes are going in my old age of course).

Re:Google faked some of the pictures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715821)

Indeed, it's almost identical. [imgur.com]

Re:Google faked some of the pictures (1)

jbwolfe (241413) | about 2 years ago | (#41715847)

Not by chance related to Steven Wright [youtube.com] , are you?

Re:Google faked some of the pictures (1)

hresult (902522) | about 2 years ago | (#41716227)

It's not Google who took and processed pictures (because there is no any ambient light in data centers as you can imagine), it's photographers who were invited to the facility and who ultimately decided to make racks look prettier by being strictly symmetrical.

Re:Google faked some of the pictures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41716619)

At first glance I agree with you but look at the first opening closes to the camera near the ground on the sever wall. The right side has a switch perhapse its thick while the other side has a basic metal tray. Started noticing other small diffreces from eachside.

Re:Google faked some of the pictures (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 years ago | (#41716837)

Because as the wiggle-gram somebody posted shows, one side has been set slightly lower than the other when copied.

Re:Google faked some of the pictures (5, Informative)

swillden (191260) | about 2 years ago | (#41718711)

Google faked at least one picture. Take a look at this picture. [google.com]

The left-hand side is exact copy of the right-hand side. Take a look at the details: The halos from the lights and the texts in the white labels.

If you read the link with the interview with the photographer you'll find that she's into heavy post-production editing. Arguably, *all* of the images are "faked" to some extent. She takes many shots of each scene and layers them together selectively to get the effect she wants. She clones out stuff she doesn't want (e.g. she mentions removing an exit sign) and clones in stuff she feels is needed to make the image symmetric, and therefore more beautiful. She doesn't worry about barrel, pincushion and perspective distortion in the original shots and does heavy correction of the final images to straighten the lines and make the angles pleasing to the eye. She shot almost all of the images with long exposures in a darkened room, which makes the relatively small LEDs appear to glow intensely and makes their cast light powerful enough to be very visible when in reality it's not very visible at all.

In short, she's interested in beauty more than in fidelity, and does whatever it takes to achieve it. Personally, I think her results are fantastic.

Re:Google faked some of the pictures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721173)

yeah, I think the folks at Google would love her work as she has an artistic twist on it.
Good on'er. Whatever though google. You didn't give me a job. Maybe it was for the better though!

Full ist of data centers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41720507)

For anyone whose interested:

Americas

        Berkeley County, South Carolina
        Council Bluffs, Iowa
        Douglas County, Georgia
        Quilicura, Chile

        Mayes County, Oklahoma
        Lenoir, North Carolina
        The Dalles, Oregon

Asia

        Hong Kong
        Singapore
        Taiwan

Europe

        Hamina, Finland
        St Ghislain, Belgium
        Dublin, Ireland

This was neat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715595)

A week ago on ARS when i read it and looked at the pics.

Some of us . . . (-1, Offtopic)

sgt_doom (655561) | about 2 years ago | (#41715597)

. . . are naturally cool.
And the crucial news to the American side:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/110039863/A-Lawsuit-Against-Private-Equity [scribd.com]

http://www.globalresearch.ca/does-the-romney-family-now-own-your-e-vote/5308911?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=does-the-romney-family-now-own-your-e-vote [globalresearch.ca]

Through a closely held equity fund called Solamere, Mitt Romney and his wife, son and brother are major investors in an investment firm called H.I.G. Capital. H.I.G. in turn holds a majority share and three out of five board members in Hart Intercivic, a company that owns the notoriously faulty electronic voting machines that will count the ballots in swing state Ohio November 7. Hart machines will also be used elsewhere in the United States.


http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-2012-us-presidential-non-election-which-brand-of-fascism-this-time/5308307 [globalresearch.ca]

Oblig: Series of tubes (5, Funny)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about 2 years ago | (#41715607)

So Ted Stevens (may he rest in peace) was right! It really *is* a series of tubes!

STEEL TUBES, full of WATER?! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715611)

Oh my god, what an innovation! Google has invented PLUMBING, and run tubes FULL OF WATER mere INCHES AWAY from its servers!

This is unheard of! How do they avoid getting everything wet, and having a couple feet of standing water on the floor?! I must know more about this magical technology Google has invented!

These are strange days we're livin', bros.

Re:STEEL TUBES, full of WATER?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715703)

Most datacenters are air cooled. Being water cooled is sort of news. But yeah, there is nothing to get excited about.

Re:STEEL TUBES, full of WATER?! (2)

zenith1111 (1465261) | about 2 years ago | (#41717057)

No one said they invented anything. I imagine that, like me, there are a lot of readers that don't have the chance to see one of these modern data centers everyday. I found the original photos very interesting.

With... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715635)

With 1 million interns from India that wave their arms really fast!

Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (3, Interesting)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 2 years ago | (#41715661)

I'm really starting to like the idea that they should submerge all their servers in circulating liquid and cool them that way. It could absorb a lot more heat and it would probably make it a lot easier to reclaim the energy from the waste heat. Air has a really low specific heat. It's why they make fluffy down filled jackets; to trap the air which acts as a good thermal insulator (and getting it wet in the winter will kill you if you don't get somewhere warm because liquids conduct/transfer heat better due to greater specific heat).

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (5, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#41715695)

As been discussed before, the problem with immersion is the serviceability of the hardware by human hands. Even mineral oil can pose a safety issue in which a technician slips and breaks his/her neck on the floor. Not to mention it's just messy all around. Over time, liquids of any form work their way (via surface tension) in all sorts of places you don't want them being.

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715753)

You lost your mod points to post this. Hmmmm!

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715757)

plus you can't immerse spinning hard drives, they fill up with fluid,

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#41715911)

That's solved with enterprise grade SSDs or sealed HDDs. Actually, I got to thinking about it more. In theory you could do a complete immersion data center. It would just require a large vat in which all equipment is submerged. Service technicians would just have to be diving certified. Sounds kinda spooky if you ask me.

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (2)

zenith1111 (1465261) | about 2 years ago | (#41717133)

In that situation you could have catwalks above the liquid and use some kind of mechanism that lifted the rack with the equipment that required service to the height of the operator.

As for the slippery floor hazard, I've recently been in a vegetable oil recycling plant and they use a floor coating that resembles sand paper so people don't slip on greasy areas.

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (2)

Victotronics (2663263) | about 2 years ago | (#41715929)

Nonsense. My employer has a rack or two hanging in mineral oil, and the drives were first sealed in epoxy. Check out Green Revolution Cooling.

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41716267)

Most Epoxy is very hard, but not very flexible.
Thermal expansion and contraction can crack it quite easily.
So like he said, "over time", you get issues.

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 2 years ago | (#41715875)

There has to be something better than air to cool things. People figured that out with respect to engines a long time ago.

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (1)

anerki (169995) | about 2 years ago | (#41717511)

Why not build specific cases that fit perfectly, in a single mold? Then you could make a group of 4, and submerse that (you can even leave the top open and connect a tube in the bottom to create a current inside and turn it into a huge heatsink too). It won't be perfect obviously, but would work better than tubes I reckon, and since you could have the submerse them compeletely, but put them in containers that are open at the top serviceability would be easier, at least.

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721275)

Increase the air pressure?
2 bar should make a decent difference.

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (2)

joib (70841) | about 2 years ago | (#41715897)

Current generation google datacenters already have a PUE around 1.1, so whatever they do by tweaking the cooling they cannot reduce the total energy consumption by more than 10 %. Of course, at their scale 10% is still a lot of energy, but the question is how much they could actually reduce that by going to immersion cooling. So far the anecdotal answer seems to be "not enough", since otherwise they would surely already have done it.

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (2)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 2 years ago | (#41716349)

I'm thinking not only of the efficiency but of something similar to cogeneration. Maybe it would be better to locate centres furthur north so they could help heat a small town in winter with the exccess heat. IIRC in Winnipeg for a long time, "waste steam" from a smaller electrical generation station near the core was used to heat a whole section of office buildings in the downtown (this was from the 1920s to maybe the 80s... but the idea is still valid I think). Or would it be possible to use the excess heat to run boilers to generate electricity for other areas of the facility? I'd bet that the heated air generated now couldn't be used for either idea as easily as using liquid.

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (1)

joib (70841) | about 2 years ago | (#41720219)

The problem is that the waste heat from server is pretty low grade; google runs their data centers hotter than most, and they report a waste heat temp of about 50 C. I would guess that the water they use to cool the air thus gets heated to at most 45 C or so. So it's difficult to use efficiently or economically. At least over here, district heating systems have an input temperature around 100 C (in some cases slightly more, the pressure in the system prevents boiling).

I don't see how this would be any different if the server would be immersion cooled with mineral oil rather than air; in both cases the waste heat needs to be exchanged to water, and even with immersion cooling you couldn't run the system that much hotter without affecting the reliability of the servers.

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (1)

epine (68316) | about 2 years ago | (#41716815)

So far the anecdotal answer seems to be "not enough", since otherwise they would surely already have done it.

If Cinderella's coach was going to turn into a pumpkin, it would surely have already happened before the clock struck twelve.

You're suggesting that at the exact moment when it becomes effective to do so, all the Google data centers turn into immersive pumpkins, so the non-existence of such is a perfect correlate with its viability, since any friction around the decision is inconceivable.

What did you make of the Vizzini scene in Princess Bride? Any clues, or are you still struggling?

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (1)

joib (70841) | about 2 years ago | (#41720201)

That might be a relevant argument if immersion cooling (or generally, liquid cooling of the servers themselves) would somehow be new, innovative, or non-obvious. It's none of those. Secondly, I didn't mean to imply that google would turn around on a dime, but rather that at least some of the newer data centers would use something better if available. The Hamina data center seen in those picture, for instance, was opened in 2012 and seems to use the same air-cooled hot-aisle containment design. I haven't seen "Princess Bride" (assuming it's a movie or play), so I won't comment on that.

Re:Immersion Would Be Better For the Environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41716093)

The problem is when you use sea/ocean water to cool the servers you are in fact warming the water. Isn't that what global warming is concerned about? Don't warm the oceans???

Can't read the article ... (1)

kfsone (63008) | about 2 years ago | (#41715745)

... and risk damaging my belief they use ice-pops.

-Oliver

Re:Can't read the article ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715803)

I just always thought it was one really good desk fan per server.

Hot aisle containment (1)

Victotronics (2663263) | about 2 years ago | (#41715903)

Can someone give me a short and elegant argument why one would use hot aisle containment? Cold air is precious, so intuitively I would think you'd want to contain that.

Re:Hot aisle containment (2)

joib (70841) | about 2 years ago | (#41715945)

Google runs their datacenters at quite high temperatures, the cold side is around 25 C, hot side 50 C. I suppose it would be a pretty unpleasant working environment if the main space of the server rooms would be at 50 C rather than 25 C.

Re:Hot aisle containment (3, Informative)

Jstlook (1193309) | about 2 years ago | (#41715953)

Their cold air is essentially room temperature, as they're using 80 degrees (presumably F) for that side. So really they've just contained the servers, sucked all the heat out, cooled it down to room temperature, and dumped it back into the room. It's far more efficient because they're not using the servers to heat a whole room / building, then air condition each room for human usage.

Re:Hot aisle containment (1)

godrik (1287354) | about 2 years ago | (#41716111)

Their cold air is essentially room temperature, as they're using 80 degrees (presumably F) for that side.

They are Google. I think it is 80K!

Re:Hot aisle containment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41716583)

I've only ever seen cold aisle containment myself. Moving hot exhaust off the floor seems like an awful lot of work, and cold air is short lived as is - once it hits a rack, it's gone.

I suppose it may have something to do with datacenter size/heat produced by individual racks.

Re:Hot aisle containment (1)

Cramer (69040) | about 2 years ago | (#41716817)

That's a lot of it... it's easier to contain the heat. In the end, you'll get the same result: a closed loop system. On one side, there's the HVAC unit taking in hot air and pushing out cold air. On the other is the servers pulling in the cold air and venting hot air. The ideal setup ducts *all* of it. But that's ugly, expensive, and tedious to setup and maintain. A hot aisle system is the best compromise as one's cold air will naturally hug the floor and hot air the ceiling. All you need to do is keep the hot air from ever mixing with the cold on it's way to HVAC. You can do that by cold containment, but then you have to work out how to get the cold air everywhere you need it. Flooding the room with cold air is much easier (and cheaper.) [even with a raised floor, the further you get away from the chiller, the lower the air pressure gets.] And in the google/facebook setups, the air doesn't have to move very far at all -- through the rack, up the hot aisle, through the chiller, and cascade back down in front of the rack.

Re:Hot aisle containment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41718765)

Two points: First, Google's cold air is 80F, and their hot air is 120F. If you contained the cold that would leave the employees in the hot. Even at 80F the employees have to get used to working in warmer-than-normal conditions. 120F would be impossible.

Second, Google doesn't use HVAC cooling. They use evaporation towers. Chillers are way too energy-hungry.

Re:Hot aisle containment (1)

Cramer (69040) | about 2 years ago | (#41718937)

A) There are very few people actually within the data center on a daily basis. And when they are, 99% of the time, they're in the cold aisle. (Did you look at their hot aisle? You couldn't walk down it not matter what temp it is.)
B) s/HVAC/CRAC/ then... there's no "H" (heating) involved. And little to no "V", either. And for the record, MANY HVAC systems use chilled water / evap. (hint: the one in this office is an evap unit.) [and many data centers use gycol as it caries more heat than pure water.]

Re:Hot aisle containment (1)

hankwang (413283) | about 2 years ago | (#41720071)

"...many data centers use gycol as it caries more heat than pure water."

No it doesn't. The heat capacity of ethylene glycol is only half that of water. But mixed with water it acts as anti-freeze, which is convenient since the evaporator that cools the water may reach freezing temperatures occasionally.

Re:Hot aisle containment (1)

CBravo (35450) | about 2 years ago | (#41716749)

It is more efficient to cool down 1/2 the air twice as much. Less overhead with pumps, plumbing, cooling surface, etc. The only problem, mentioned by others, you better not let the hot air escape. IANACE.

Re:Hot aisle containment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41719445)

I had no idea what either of these were, so I googled and found: http://www.42u.com/cooling/hot-aisle-containment.htm [42u.com]

Within that, I found the following section:

Comfort Temperature
Proponents of this design, when comparing it to Cold Aisle Containment, often discuss the overall data center temperature. Cold Aisle Containment isolates temperatures at the server intake, meaning the rest of the room is subject to server exhaust temperatures. Hot aisle containment isolates temperatures at the server exhaust while the rest of the room feels akin to the server intake temperature. The result: a more palatable overall temperature for those working in and passing through the data center.

As I read it, they are saying that it is easier for the people working in the data center if they can be in the cold aisle along with the servers' intake. In cold aisle containment, there is only a small area for which that is true. With hot aisle containment, the cool area is bigger. With cold aisle containment, people either have to work in the hot aisle or at least go through it to get to the cold aisle.

Cost (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#41716007)

The servers and all that infrastructure looks very large and expensive, so of-course they have to figure out how to squeeze the most out of it in the most efficient manner. Google stock took a 13% dive over the last 2 days of the week [google.com] , so it's a good time to come out with an article showing all that infrastructure.

Re:Cost (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41716367)

this has been out for a few days when the stock took a small dump--it was on ycombinator (hackernews) and another im just not remembering right now it was quite a hit that price took but its still at what? 600 bucks a share---is it overvalued??
will it take another hit soon ? will it go up soon ?

The pictures are very nice (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41716285)

I wish there was a good way to hear the tremendous noise all those fans make in the hot aisle.

*YAWN* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41718031)

meh

Not actually 1M servers according to wired (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41719199)

The was a placard for the millionith server board. Google stated clearly that it was # 1,000,000 and that it did not mean there were 1M in service. That was really clear in the article so the summary messed it up or just missed it.

Zhou manipulated her pics (2)

vikingpower (768921) | about 2 years ago | (#41720535)

A Dutch newspaper, which this week published several of Zhous photos, found out - after a thread on Reddit began mentioning possible photoshopping - that, indeed, Zhou manipulated her pictures: http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2012/10/20/google-publiceert-prachtige-fotos-van-datacentra-maar-zijn-ze-echt-nee/ [www.nrc.nl] is the link ( story, of course, in Dutch )

When you look at the pictures with a critical eye, you see it quite quickly: on half of the servers, the LEDs are on the wrong side, they are simply mirrored. Zhou declared she is "crazy about symmetry". As one commentor on Reddit put it: "I knew it! For a long time, Google has been trying to make us believe that they have a lot of servers. Well, this proves that they only have very many servers" Google quite quickly admitted to the news, but did not see a reason to take the Zhou series of pictures offline.

THIS IS PR FOR FAKE FINNACEL REPORTS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721989)

YOU MOVE THE INTEREST TO THE SERVER AND NOT CRASH OF 10% STOCK VALUE.

i do like google, but this proves amature P.R.

where there's movement (1)

KingBenny (1301797) | about 2 years ago | (#41723711)

i smell an engineering contest. I'm way far from an engineer ... couple of lightyears probably but if that air moves can't it be used for energy reclamation driving some kind of micro-turbines (does that exist?) getting back a little of the energy spent that could be redirected into the system again. Or is this one of my 'you've read too much science-fiction' moments ?
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