Survey: Rack Density Heading Higher

serversMany new data centers will be built to support power densities of between 10 kW and 20 kW per rack, significantly higher than the 7.4 kW average supported by current facilities, according to a new survey of data center operators released today by Emerson Network Power (EMR). Among the reasons cited for designing for higher density data centers were the need to save facility space, support blade servers and reduce energy costs.

The findings were among the data points from Emerson’s bi-annual survey of its Data Center Users Group (DCUG), which polls more than 120 data center, facility and IT managers shared information about future plans for their data centers. The survey results were previewed earlier this month during the two-day DCUG spring conference in Washington, D.C.

The survey revealed that the current economic environment is having an effect on data center operations. Sixty one percent of respondents in the DCUG survey said they had been forced to cut their budgets’ while 35 percent said they were forced to delay new data center builds or expansion projects.

Not surprisingly, energy efficiency continued to be a front-of-mind issue for most data center managers, with 47 percent saying it was “one of their top concerns.” A surprisingly close second was adequate monitoring, which was a top concern for 46 percent of respondents.  

See Emerson’s announcement for additional details from the survey.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. David

    7.4kW per rack on average? Assuming 150 watts/sf is average and a cabinet occupies 30 square feet of floor space (which is on the high side) that's 4.5kW per rack. In the same facility, if you wanted 7.4kW delivered to the rack that rack would occupy 49.33sf of floor space. That's a LOT of wasted space. This leads me to believe that either my math is wrong or the 7.4kW per rack isn't actual power consumption (or a bunch of other possibilities.) Can someone help me understand the math used here? Thanks, -Dave

  2. The study that was released today states that there are racks that are upwards of 20kW per rack. In our data center facility at HostMDS we calculate rack space at 18 sq/ft per rack.. Thus, a 20kW rack means that we would need to deliver upwards of 1100 watts/sf !! Wow! I don't know of any data centers out there that design facilities in that range. Our latest facilities have capacity for 350 watt/sf, and even that is on the high end from what we have seen. I think a big misconception comes down to what the odd deployment utilizes, compared to the main stream of deployments around the globe. The other big concern is cooling. When you are talking about 20kW of power consumption in 18sqft of space, you are now creating so much heat that even liquid cooled cabinets become ineffective. If data centers need to be built to handle upwards of 1000 watts/sqft, data center facilities are going to be needing a nuclear power plant soon just to provide the power requirements... Paul @