Data Centre Noise Control
As our reliance on IT and web-based cloud computing continues to rise, the infrastructure to support this growing trend needs to be equally as cutting-edge and efficient. Data centres, whilst housing some of the most advanced computer processing technology, can also generate large amounts of noise if not controlled appropriately.
There are typically 5 key sources of noise associated with data centre operations, these usually take the form of:
- back-up generator plant rooms
- roof-top air handling equipment
- external machinery compounds
- external perimeter screening
- internal data halls
Gaining the correct balance between airflow and attenuation is key when designing a plant room, especially if it is housing back-up generators. Generators, when operating, are usually the noisiest pieces of equipment in any data centre. Due to their key function of keeping the site running should a power failure occur, the level of attenuation required needs to cater for the quietest ambient times of day – typically during the night.
Sometimes required to run for extended periods of time, plant rooms housing any live generators need to be suitably designed to ensure the correct and efficient airflow, whilst maintaining an agreed acoustic specification. Any attenuation required on both the intake and exhaust need to be designed prior to building. Sufficient space needs to be given for silencers, especially if the acoustic specification is high to avoid larger openings or additional external silencers being added.
The construction of the room itself also needs considering to reduce noise break-out to adjoining rooms within the centre. Typically block work or concrete is used to create mass and hence reduce noise transmitted however weight is a huge factor to consider, especially for rooms located above ground level. Acoustic panels can be used in this instance as a lightweight solution to reducing noise and depending on the configuration, shorten reverberation times within the room. By increasing the amount of absorption within the room, this has the effect of further reducing noise. Absorption can also be added to rooms constructed in traditional materials by lining the walls and ceiling with rugged acoustic panels.
Access also needs consideration as these are typically areas of weakness in the acoustic integrity of a plant room. Specialist acoustic doors may be required depending on the level of attenuation required and their proximity to quieter areas of the facility such as offices.