There have long been arguments about how hot you can run a data center before you start to encounter server mortality. Operators and engineers are ultra cautious because who wants to tell the boss that you burned a few servers because you let the data warehouse hit 80 degrees (one old study even says that the failure rate for electronics doubles every 10 degrees Celsius). Well, a new study is out from the Computer Science Department at the University of Toronto that looked at multiple environmental conditions at high performance data centers, concluding that “the effect of high data center temperatures on system reliability are smaller than often assumed.” Amazon’s data center efficiency guru James Hamilton notes that the single largest non-IT cost in the data center is cooling and the paper goes on to say that when Microsoft raised the temperature two to four degrees in one of its Silicon Valley data centers it saved $250,000. That’s a lot of cash and reason enough to rethink how hot we can drive servers.
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