We know how important it is to keep our computers cool, especially as we push their performance. This is true for our personal computers and for the servers in data centers which can hold a great many computers, all of which are pouring out heat. Now some researchers at the University of Toronto Scarborough are asking if maybe the data centers are kept cooler than they need to be.
Overheated computers will throws errors and typically will shutdown before components can be damaged, but for large datacenters, downtown could be unacceptable, and errors definitely would be. This is why they are typically cooled to somewhere between 20 ºC and 22 ºC, but the researchers are questioning if that range could be raised. After analyzing data from data centers run by Google, Los Alamos National Labs, and others, and some equipment tests in their own labs, the researchers found that higher temperatures either had no negative effects or the effects were less than predicted.
As data centers are currently estimated to represent 1% of the world's power consumption, any way to reduce their energy requirements is worth investigating. Estimates predict that raising the temperature even one degree could cut this requirement by 2-5%, so this research could definitely lead to some impressive savings.