High density IT equipment has brought about many changes to what could be considered the more traditional method for cooling data centres and server rooms. Historically a Perimeter or In Room cooling system was preferred for most medium to large data centre environments.
Perimeter or In Room cooling designs use Computer Room Air Conditioners (CRAC) which are usually positioned around the perimeter of the room and use the raised floor void to deliver cold air around the data centre. The cold air is pushed around the room by the CRAC units under the floor and released or delivered through perforated floor tiles strategically located in the cold aisle.
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To achieve the highest levels of efficiency in your data centre or server room it is critical to get the layout of your sever racks and cooling right. Although it might look like most data centres just line up racks because that is the easiest way to fit them in, there is actually a lot more science behind the reason for this configuration and getting it right will lead to huge savings in running costs and improve efficiency.
The easiest way to provide data centre cooling in the most efficient way possible is to segregate hot and cold air using the hot aisle / cold aisle configuration. The hot aisle / cold aisle configuration conserves energy and lowers cooling costs by managing air flow. This is common practice in every data centre and may seem obvious to most people, and although not always adopted it is still just as important in smaller server rooms.
The idea is quite simple, it involves lining up rows of server racks (front to front) so the IT equipments air intake (usually at the front of the device) faces the cold aisle where your air conditioning equipment delivers cold air and the hot air expelled from the device (usually at the rear) faces the rear of the row of server racks next to it (back to back). The hot air exhausted is then returned to the air conditioners return ducts. Below is a diagram of how you would expect this to look.