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How Can I Determine a Data Center’s Power Density, And What Factors Are Used in that Evaluation?

Ben Gonyea
March 3, 2014

Just the other day, we weighed in on flood zoning and how it can affect your decision to work with or house your data in a specific data center "Data Center Flood Zones". But as we mentioned, flood zoning isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing a data center that suits your needs for reliability and performance.

In the world of data centers, power density is also very important.

Power density is generally measured in Watts per Square Foot (W/sq.ft.)—“the IT load rating in kW and the physical size of the IT and equipment rooms.” As Data Center Journal notes, “Given limitations on space and the need for more-efficient operation to counter the effects of rising power demand and cost, packing more resources into each rack is an obvious solution.”

Thinking back to the W/sq.ft. measurement, the more resources per rack and/or square foot, the more power dense a facility is. Because there’s only so much space available, a higher power density generally means more efficiency—which is great for consumers and businesses seeking to make the most out of their leased rack space. When paying per cabinet, cabinet power density is important, too; the more power available per cabinet, the more servers you can use per each cabinet leased. There’s lots of value in high power density.

Aside from the measurement itself, there a few other factors to think about in the evaluation of power density:

  • Cooling. High power density brings more servers per cabinet, which comes at the cost of increased heat output and a need for more cooling power. Having high power density is great—but only if your data center provider also provides sufficient cooling.
  • Efficiency. As we hinted at above, higher power density data centers are more efficient. They make better use of the space available, and give customers the opportunity to use each cabinet to its max potential instead of being limited by the power cap of a cabinet.
  • Cost. Finally, as you can imagine, power density has a great effect on cost. The higher the power density, the less space there is that’s wasted, an essential concern when renting floor or cabinet space. High power density and the increased efficiency that results leads to decreased costs for the end user.

Moving towards the future, many data center service providers—Telx included—are making the move towards high power density to offer greater efficiency and lower costs to customers. And here at Telx, we realize that cooling becomes a concern with higher power density, which is why all of our data centers offer premier air-conditioned space. Our PRT1 Telx Data Center, for example, provides an overall power density of 325 W/sq.ft., with cabinets between 5 and 10 kW power densities and our SCL2 Telx data Center provides an overall power density of 425 W/sq.ft. with cabinets at 8 kW power densities—efficient specs for even the most demanding users.

It can be difficult to sort through all the terminology surrounding power density in data centers, but we’re here to help answer any questions you may have. If you do have any questions about power density in our data centers, feel free to reach out to us via the contact page of our site, or by Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to hear from you.

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