The Data Centre Cooling Challenge: Server Power

Please note: This blog originally appeared in the May/June issue of Data Centre Management

To drive down cooling costs in the data centre, you have to eliminate inefficiencies on the demand side and supply side. It requires lowering power consumption for the servers and the cooling systems themselves. Intel offers a middleware solution that helps data centre managers tackle cooling from both directions. Instead of focusing solely on return air temperature at the air-conditioning units, Intel® Data Center Manager (Intel® DCM) promotes holistic data centre efficiencies by focusing on real-time server power and thermal characteristics.

Intel DCM middleware, with web service APIs, creates a power management solution stack for the data centre. Power consumption and server inlet temperatures are monitored for each server, without requiring any agent on the individual servers. Results can be aggregated for racks, rows, the room, or physical or logical groups of servers.

Unlike predictive models that are based on static data sets that need refreshing/updating with every new server platform upgrade, Intel DCM introduces real-time monitoring and control. The resulting visibility identifies potential hot spots and computer-area air handler (CRAH) failures easily, enabling proactive actions to avoid the abnormal. Accurate, real-time data also makes it possible to set thresholds and alerts, and enforce policies that optimize service and efficiencies.

By aggregating server inlet temperatures, Intel DCM enables the creation of real-time thermal maps of the data centre (see Figure 1). Gathered data can also be logged and used for trending analysis as well as in-depth airflow studies for improving thermal profiles and avoiding over- or under-cooling. The granularity and accuracy make it possible to fine-tune cooling instead of designing systems based on worst-case scenarios.

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Figure 1. Building Real-Time Thermal Maps

Hardware-agnostic Intel DCM SDK offers broad support for server hardware and software. Web Services Description Language (WSDL) APIs simplify integration with management consoles. This means console vendors, system integrators, and enterprises can also take advantage of these interfaces to build Intel DCM functionality into applications.

Intel DCM in Action

In southern Korea, KT Corporation wanted to increase the compute density in its Mok-dong data centre. The power available to the centre—5MW maximum—must cover both servers and cooling. KT used Intel DCM during a three-month evaluation of workloads, temperatures, and power usage in a high-temperature HTAdata centre. Inlet thermal monitoring of node temperatures was a key capability for identifying potential hot spots in real time.

The study showed KT how to:

·         Significantly boost the efficiency of chillers and CRAC equipment, with adjustments to the chilled-water-loop temperature and rack configurations

·         Gain power efficiency improvements using server virtualization

·         Automatically decrease power consumption for idle nodes

·         Identify abnormal thermal events, and appropriately manage cooling resources to avoid service impact

·         Monitor ongoing impacts on cooling as servers are added

·         Optimize wet-side and air-side economizer designs for future data centre sites


Considering the current conditions within the global energy market, there is no hope that the cost of power will come down soon, if ever. Tools such as Intel DCM are essential for reducing waste and getting the most out of every purchased energy unit whether it goes directly to a server or indirectly to the associated cooling system. Data centre managers are using the real-time, aggregated monitoring, control, and trending data to drive up server rack densities without exceeding cooling capacity. Thermal maps are helping them refine integrated cooling and air-flow systems and identify areas of wasted power (heat). The power management stack can also enable power throttling, to avoid exceeding cooling capabilities or to stay within a set budget for cooling.

To read more about Intel DCM and related power management solutions, please visit:

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Reference: White paper: “How High Temperature Data Centers & Intel Technologies at Korea Telecom save Energy, Money, Water and Greenhouse Gas Emissions,”  Intel Corporation,

As the Director of Data Center Solutions at Intel Corporation, Jeffrey S. Klaus leads a global team that designs, builds, sells, and supports Intel DCM, the only software that provides real-time, server-level data on the power and thermal conditions across a wide range of data center servers and other equipment. Provided as an SDK, Intel DCM is integrated into Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) consoles to increase data centers’ power and thermal efficiency by as much as 40 percent and help facilities managers to better contain costs.

He can be reached at

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Jeff Klaus

About Jeff Klaus

General Manager of Data Center Solutions at Intel. Internationally respected software executive with experience building data center software licensing, API management and software solution businesses. Jeff has extensive experience building software engineering, product development, marketing, licensing and deployment through a variety of industry verticals globally. Jeff has experience distributing solutions to the top 10 global hardware OEMs, leading global software solution providers and direct to the largest telco and Internet Portal Data Centers around the world. He has built global sales and distribution teams and has experience orchestrating solution selling through indirect solution partners in addition to direct GTM strategies. Jeff is a graduate of Boston College, and also holds an MBA from Boston University.