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How Google stays cool 17/11/2014

They’re one of the biggest IT companies in the world, so it’s not surprising that Google knows a thing or two about cooling computer equipment rooms.

Everybody knows how hot a laptop can get after it has been on for a couple of hours. Imagine then, the heat produced in a series of server rooms that’s going about the business of indexing the entire sum of human knowledge. You’re going to need an awful lot of servers, and those servers are going to put out staggering quantities of heat.

Google say they’re rightly proud of their data centre infra-structure and have taken giant steps in cooling systems. Their data centres require that server rooms housing literally thousands of computers have to stay within a specific operating temperature range in order to work at optimum efficiency.

The company says that their so-called “hot huts” are typically at temperatures higher than most data centres – saving them a significant sum in cooling costs – but they still need to use cooling systems. These systems aren’t just for the comfort of the servers – staff have to work in there as well!

The technology giant says that cooling is their second highest expense after electricity, which just goes to show how high up their priorities this is, but – typically for Google – the cooling was designed from the ground up to suit their unique needs.

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They are – as you’d expect – big fans of evaporative cooling. Google explains how water that is heated by the server rooms is exposed to air from outside. Of course, while the explanation is short, the reality is never quite as simple, as this photo from their heat exchanger room shows, with pipes designating the flows of hot and cold water in the company colours.

In sites where evaporative cooling is impractical at certain times of year, there are chilling units available. But mindful of the fact that evaporative cooling is far cheaper, they’re only ever switched on in dire emergencies.

Filing away the entire contents of the internet is a hot and power hungry business, but Google have taken steps to use the best technology available to ensure that it remains cool.

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