Equinix recently opened two new data centers in Frankfurt and Amsterdam, and has posted virtual tour videos of the new facilities on the company's YouTube channel. What caught my eye was that the video depicts a data center design using a raised-floor and a cold aisle containment system.
Why is this notable? Equinix has been one of the leading practitioners of using a solid slab floor rather than a raised floor design in its major U.S. data centers. In most recent Equinix-built data centers, the cabinets sit on a hard surface and cool air enters the room from overhead, taking advantage of the natural tendency for cold air to fall and hot air to rise - which eliminates the need to use air pressure to force cool air up through a raised floor.
We touched base with Equinix to see whether the raised floor designs represented a shift in thinking.
"As a colo provider, Equinix is driven to meet market requirements," said Equinix CTO Dave Pickut. "In some markets (and in some physical structures), there are advantages to raised floor. In other markets, slab floor is more widely accepted, particularly with network and telecommunications customers. In areas of high seismic activity, slab construction has inherent advantages.
"Cooling systems deployment is also customer-driven," said Pickut. "We see a wide range of power densities deployed. Overall, we're flexible and elastic in our response to customer needs."
Higher power densities often require containment strategies to isolate cold supply air and waste heat. Containment strategies can be implemented in both slab and raised-floor designs, and using either hot-aisle or cold-aisle isolation.
Here's a look at the video overview for the Equinix Frankfurt 4 facility. This runs about 6 minutes: