Data centres are wasting energy because of "archaic" attitudes to equipment tolerances to heat and humidity, says The Green Grid.
The latest report from the efficiency-promoting industry consortium, which includes IBM, Google, HP, Microsoft and Intel among its members, says that modern IT equipment can be run at significantly higher temperatures and humidity without affecting overall failure rates.
Most current perceptions of the tolerance of IT equipment to temperatures and humidity is based on practices dating from the 1950s, says the report.
"The common perception of IT network, server and storage equipment is that it operates within very tight environmental tolerances," says Harkeeret Singh, who contributed to the report. "These practices are archaic... In practice, modern equipment can tolerate periods of much greater heat and humidity, with no significant effect on failure rates."
Singh says that periods of operation at higher temperatures and humidity can be compensated by running cooling systems at other times, with an overall reduction in the use of mechanical chillers.
"While we are not yet ready to do away completely with mechanical cooling, the industry is making constant progress in minimising the need for air conditioning thanks to economisers, better data centre design, and more efficient operating practices," says Singh.
The Green Grid publishes 'cooling maps', for example, which aim to help data centre operators and owners locate their facilities to take advantage of cooling from ambient air.
Most data centres currently use about as much energy to cool equipment as they do to actually run it, but increasing efforts are being made to reduce that energy wastage.