An end to raised floor?

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Matthew Sarrel over at wrote late last week about the eWeek Labs’ take on the latest in high efficiency (“green”) datacenter technologies.

All of these things will help the environment, but let’s come right out and say it: Going green makes sense when a business saves capital and resources by doing so. A warm feeling at night is not a compelling business reason for going green, but saving millions of dollars on power and HVAC sure is.

He covers a range of standard stuff, and then this note that I found interesting

Believe it or not, 2010 will toll the death knell for the raised floor.  As hot air rises, cool air ends up below the raised floor, where it isn’t doing much good. In addition, raised floors simply can’t support the weight demands placed on them by high-density racks.  A 42u rack populated with 14 3u servers can weigh up to 1,000 pounds.

Raised floors are simply not efficient operationally. I had the experience many years ago of building a 10,000-foot data center in a large city. Several months after it was built, we began to have intermittent network outages. It took many man-hours to locate the problem: Rats were chewing through the insulation on cables run below the raised floor. Rats aside, additions, reconfigurations and troubleshooting of the cable plant are much easier on your staff when cables are in plain sight.

Well, “death knells” are rarely so abrupt (new Coke notwithstanding), and surely not many areas of the country have significant rat problems. It’s an interesting idea to ponder, and maybe I’m just used to the “way its always been,” but I’ve found our raised floors quite handy over the years. Properly managed (cable trays, water sensors, rat traps, and whatnot) they are a great way to keep that Congressionally-funded HPC center looking ship shape for visitors and to put air (mostly) where it’s needed. There are probably equivalent ways of accomplishing the same things, to be sure, but I don’t see a big mandate to start ripping out raised floors in non-legendarily sized supercomputing centers (if you’re over half a pFLOPS in one machine today, you’re legendarily sized).


  1. […] morning I noted, via Rich Miller’s twitter stream a new article counter-proclaiming the death of Raised Floor in datacenters. It boggles my mind how people still cling to this outdated, outmoded, and clearly obsolescent […]