Increase in demand
Over the past few years there has been a growing trend with an increase in data usage and therefore a greater demand placed on data centres. This trend has only been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic with an Ofcom report indicating that in April 2020 during the first lockdown a daily average of 4hrs 2mins online for UK adults up from 3hr 30mins in Sept 2019.
This can be a combination of factors from an increase in home working and the inevitable rise in demand of video calling services meetings and business communication. These same services also provide opportunities for people wishing to stay connected with friends and family with Zoom showing an astonishing growth of almost 2000% in terms of the number of registered users.
Home bound entertainment through digital tv and film streaming platforms (Netflix, Disney+ etc) also saw an increase as did live streaming platforms such as Twitch which almost doubled its number of registered visitors during the first lockdown.
As society begins to return to normality, businesses and employees will look to retain some of the positives that have emerged from lockdown – a greater work life balance and increased remote working flexibility, when coupled with increased data demands of 5G and IoT, will likely accelerate the need for data centre capacity at an exponential rate.
With this continued growth in cloud computing, the demands also escalate for cutting edge and efficient data centres. Highly advanced computer processing technology generates large amounts of noise which can become a problem if not controlled and managed efficiently. A well-structured approach to data centre noise control looks to manage noise internally for personnel and externally for adjacent commercial and private residents.
High volumes of computer and server equipment produce a large amount of heat – managing component life span and minimising maintenance costs requires large cooling systems. Large volumes of conditioned air being moved continuously require high performance acoustic louvres and attenuators to limit the noise entering the facility. Likewise liquid cooling and chiller systems require similar ventilation and acoustic enclosure noise control for plant equipment.
Despite many data centres operating with a limited number of staff, access for maintenance and repairs is essential so ambient background levels must be maintained to meet local regulations. Acoustic windows and doors can provide additional screening and isolate the noise whilst still providing the degree of access required.
Operating continuously requires a back-up system to maintain up time and balance and power outages. Multiple large diesel generators are a major noise source contributor within a data centre facility. These require full system acoustic enclosure treatments, consisting of ventilation attenuators and exhaust silencers, anti vibration isolation systems, absorptive acoustic panels and acoustic doors and access points.
Perimeter screening can also be utilised to offer further noise mitigation, either around specific sources such as external plant, or at the boundary line. Acoustic barriers are available in different materials with varying performance levels but metal/composite barriers are often the most resilient to external elements and maintain their acoustic integrity throughout their lifetime.
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