Design of today’s IT equipment combined with RADICAL changes in software are DOUBLING or TRIPLING the IT equipment demand / utilization. Demand on IT equipment is moving to 50% to 75%. This is NOT a theoretical change but rather a MAJOR paradigm shift. This means the shift is toward higher heat loads per sq ft or per rack. Computer Virtualization will substantially change heat loads. Equipment manufacturers have taken steps to increase the thermal thresholds of computers so as to withstand higher operating temperatures.

Before you can change the supply temperature you must first ensure that all rack inlets are operating safely below the new standard. Additionally, return temperatures must be warmer in order for AC systems to operate at peak capacity. This means you must separate the hot and cold airflow in the data center.

Containment is the best way to fully separate the hot and cold airflow. One way of separating airflow is by using the drop ceiling void as a return plenum to the AC units. AC extensions (CRAC-up™) that draw air from the drop ceiling void are used to both balance the thermal load to each AC unit as well as ensure that only warm dry air is returning back to the AC coil.

Hot or Cold Aisle Containment

Some believe the key decision is whether you contain the hot or cold aisle. The facts are that the properties of hot/cold air naturally require both. For instance, hot air naturally rises. This means the focus of hot air containment should be above the rack ... not at the end of the aisle. Cold air is just the opposite. Cold air is denser and tends to drop and run across the floor (unless it is being moved by mechanical means). Thus containment for cold air is the perimeter around the racks.

Containment systems are made up of three basic parts:
  • Hot Aisle Ceiling Partitions - Rack Hat™
  • Cold Aisle Roof - Polar Cap™
  • Aisle End Doors - Sliding, Hinged, Strip Curtain

Fire Suppression

Containment systems are designed to separate hot and cold airflow. Unfortunately it also alters the sprinkler patterns of aqueous fire suppression systems (Containment systems do not alter gaseous fire suppression systems because airflow is not restricted.) Attachment links that release in a fire suppression event solve the containment blockage problem.

There are two types of links:
  1. Thermal links. These separate at the same time as the sprinkler heads activate. The ceiling partition drops and preserves the designed sprinkler patterns.
  2. Electronic thermal links. These are tied to the smoke detectors. When the smoke detectors are activated a low voltage signal from the detector will melt the thermal link.

Another key area of concern is ceiling mounted smoke detectors. A containment system must be designed to allow smoke to run across the ceiling. This is because all smoke detectors are cross-zoned activated. If a smoke detector is isolated it will render the system inoperable. SubZero thermal links are mounted 1 ½ inches below the ceiling to allow smoke detectors proper operation.

Connectivity, Installation Cost, Potential Adjustments or Changes, Aesthetics.

Containment systems should have parts that easily connect to each other. This ensures low installation cost. In the event a containment area is enlarged or reduced, a modular approach will allow for instant and easy adjustment. Lastly, an aesthetically appealing containment system will look like one continuous unit. All of these requirements point to the need of a fully modular system.

Modular Design

Why is modular design important?

All work performed in a data center presents a level of risk to the computer environment. Products that require cutting and/or drilling present a danger to the continued operation of computer equipment. Metal slivers can find their way through the subfloor plenum into sensitive electronic equipment. Most data centers have a no cutting or drilling policy. The SubZero modular designed system requires no cutting or drilling. Each component is designed to attach to another. Additionally, a sliding mounting system ensures that the aluminum track can be attached to the ceiling grid at any point and at any direction. This modular system saves time and money.

SubZero Containment products are all modular in design

Our products are built to install without using tools. Each product snaps or overlaps together to create one seamless product. As a result our products are very easy to install, easy to adjust, and look great!

The aluminum track is designed with a continuous running top slider. A connection to the ceiling can be made at any point along the track.

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