– Matthew Larbey, Product Strategy Director at VIRTUS, says:

Big business and large corporations can struggle with decreasing IT budgets combined with an increased need for higher corporate performance. High Performance Computing used to be seen as something reserved for mega-corporations, but is now being more commonly appreciated as a way of countering this difficult situation.

This increase in High Performance Computing interest means that data centres have to act quickly and innovatively for effective and efficient power density and computing power. High Density strategies are one way that data centres can increase power density and the yield of available power to meet this challenge.

However, the very idea of High Density has been causing confusion. Different people seem to have their own definition.

One example is Gartner, who defined High Density as a capability where energy required is higher than 15kW for each rack within a set of rows. However, the industry is constantly reviewing its definition of the term, with the phrase Ultra High Density being introduced for High Performance Computing systems that need 30-40kW.

How can High Density innovation support High Performance Computing?

It is now important for colocation providers to consider their ability to back High Performance Computing through High Density in order to gain data centre customers. This competition between data centres reveals some of the different ways people see High Density – while some suppliers will have higher density abilities than others, few will admit it. This suggests one reason behind why the industry is struggling to come to one fixed definition of High Density.

Businesses will increasingly be looking into High Density capabilities of potential third party data centres to help them decide who to work with. They will need to be able to see that their data centre will support High Performance Computing infrastructures – and incorporating High Density from the beginning allows this to be achieved with an optimal amount of data centre footprint and reduced costs

Existing data centres may begin to look into offering High Density – but they will lag behind the modern intelligent data centres that have incorporated the service from the beginning. Therefore, the pressure is on for older data centres to play catch-up with High Density to remain competitive

Older generation data centres and the challenge of High Density

This method of catch-up could be easier said than done, however. An upgrade which looks to supply High Density as a service as well as accommodating High Performance Computing systems will require a larger amount of work than you may think.

A data centre needs to evaluate its ability to create a strong infrastructure to support High Density before work begins. Adding the capability is not just about adding more power to the data centre building.

While High Density does need a higher level of power per cabinet, it also relies on increased cooling systems. This format of advanced cooling is necessary because of High Density’s increased energy consumption and server productivity leading to an increase in heat production. This has complicated effects which mean that the data centre may require more than a quick retrofit.

It is essential that the data centre can handle advanced levels of power coming into the building, as well as the temperatures created through increased High Density output. If heat is not handled properly, the data centre’s operations and performance are at risk.

Due to this, older generation data centres can find it difficult to be able to support High Density because of a lack of the necessary in-built cooling and infrastructure systems. If a lot of money has to be spent on updating a data centre’s facilities, then the cost benefits of High Performance Computer are lost for the customer.

What to consider when looking for a High Density data centre

It is vital to keep in mind that the most cost effective providers of High Density will be the data centres who have incorporated it into their infrastructure from the beginning, rather than an older generation data centre which has had to make costly add-ons.

Careful consideration is vital for businesses if they want a cost effective High Density solution, and to avoid committing to long-term contracts with providers which may not be able to accommodate the business’s growing performance needs down the line.