Higher Temperatures for Data Centers talks about emerging environmental standards that could well lead to increasing ambient temperatures in facilities. All other things being equal, higher ambient temperatures will lead to higher component temperatures.
In many cases, the maximum processor case temperature (Tcase) is the limiting factor for how high the ambient temperature can be raised. The Tcase limit is established by the semiconductor vendor as the maximum case temperature that the chip can experience and still meet the vendor's reliability goals.
This can put a crimp in plans to use outside air for cooling. In most likely data center locations, there are occasionally warm days that would increase the inlet temperature to the servers to the point that the processor Tcase would exceed the vendor's specified ratings.
The telecommunications market has had this issue for years. NEBS-rated equipment for central offices generally has to operate at 40°C ambient temperature, but they also need to operate at 55°C for short periods (up to 96 hours at a time and up to 360 hours per year).
To address the needs of the NEBS market, Intel provides some of their processors with dual Tcase ratings: one long-term T-case rating and a second short-term Tcase rating that is 15°C higher for up to 360 hours per year.
These processors with dual Tcase ratings may be a good fit for systems in data centers that use air-side economizers.
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