What is a high-density data center?

Our design team often works with customers who require flexibility due to disparate densities across their environment, and those demands just continue to grow as technology improves.

Our design team often works with customers who require flexibility due to disparate densities across their environment, and those demands just continue to grow as technology improves. So how dense can a high-density data center get? Before we get to that, we’re going to have to explain how a high-density center differs from more traditional ones.

Understanding the differences between a traditional data center and a high-density data center

Densities supported by a traditional data center typically range from 3kW network racks up to 20kW high-performance compute racks. In recent years, demand for racks as high as 50kW or even 100kW has increased. High-density data centers, unlike their conventional counterparts, are optimized for the increased density requirements from a sophisticated client base. This will be more important as we move even further into the internet of things, artificial intelligence, and machine learning — high-density is the new standard for compute environments.

Since our inception, Sabey Data Centers has designed our data halls with high density in mind. The hot aisle containment design provides clients with flexibility and peace of mind to configure their rows without having to think about the placement or cooling requirements of their high density racks. That’s a big deal — it’s difficult to make compromises when it becomes apparent that your data center provider hasn’t taken your changing density and physical space needs into account. That’s why our data center facilities cool dense configurations with low impact air cooling and without the use of DX for most of the year.

At Sabey Data Centers, we understand that your data center environment is only as good as its cooling capabilities. Across our portfolio, we base our primary cooling systems on a nominal 20-degree difference between the hot and cold aisles, making sure to operate with positive cold aisle pressure. In this system, the room is flooded with cool air while the server’s internal fans move the air and cool the units. While the 100kW rack is not a daily request (yet), we know we can do it because we specifically test for it.

How Sabey Data Centers operates differently than other high-density data centers

Sabey Data Centers is one of the only data center organizations to commission our mechanical systems by checking not just their ability to dissipate heat, but also to freely move air. Far from a trivial undertaking, we firmly believe this to be the only way to ensure that a design will perform as expected. Do things still come up? Sure, but learning how to mitigate risk factors with current high-density data center techniques is part of the reason why you choose Sabey in the first place. That’s why even though the equipment required to commission against both standards didn’t yet exist, we had to invent it.

We tapped our longtime partner McKinstry to help us bridge what we perceived to be a glaring gap in the commissioning process, and the Mobile Commissioning Agent (MCA) was born soon thereafter.

The MCA is an effective tool to simulate both server heat load and airflow. We deploy multiple MCAs across a data hall to exhaustively vet the system’s full capabilities of any of our data centers. By contrast, the typical industry practice — using load banks for commissioning — does not adequately simulate server airflow and so may fail to reveal inadequacies in the air movement capacity of the HVAC system. The enhanced commissioning provided by Sabey MCAs gives our customers full confidence in our performance commitments to them and in the reliability of our high-density data center.

Our team continues to explore new types of cooling with a focus on delivering the most efficient platform possible for our customers. As use cases like artificial intelligence increase compute density exponentially, we are also designing our facilities to flex for emerging liquid and immersion cooling techniques.

There is a home for high-density applications at a Sabey data center now and in the future.

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