Your data center planning is nearing its completion. You’ve determined the area and square footage that will become the nerve center of your company. Electrical and mechanical plans are in place that will house the network of servers and accompanying equipment. Has anyone thought to address and consider the raised floor?
Surprisingly, it is quite common that this critical process and evaluation is overlooked. Your design team has spent countless hours planning for the state of the art and expensive data center equipment that will occupy the space. We are certain that your CFO is well aware of the that cost. But take a second to consider this. The platform that will structurally and mechanically support this equipment, has it been thoroughly addressed? Are you aware of the raised floors various features? Let’s move forward and examine some considerations of selecting a raised floor, the base of your new data center.
It is our opinion that the first and most critical determinations are the weight loads (equipment etc.) that will be placed on the floor.
This shall be addressed from both a static load and rolling load perspective. Both are commonly seen in data centers. Are you aware that raised floor panels are available in various load ratings to match these anticipated loads? Floor panels are produced in static load ratings from 1,000# psi all the way up to 3,000# psi. That’s quite a range to fit your specific needs. Rolling load capabilities increase as does the static load rating. The most common panel load rating we see is 1,250# psi. However, today this is beginning to trend higher. Due in part to constant moving in and out of equipment, owners are opting to increase structural performance up front rather than addressing potential structural concerns later on. Your data center becomes much more flexible to handle the unknown future requirements.
Be certain that your raised floor system understructure is of the bolted stringer type.
As background, understructure is defined as the pedestal bases, pedestal heads, stringers and screws for attachment. In other words, that’s everything below supporting the panels. A bolted stringer system has the stringers physically attached with heavy duty screws to the pedestal head assemblies. Therefore, pedestal assemblies are placed every two foot on center throughout the room. The most popular stringer is the 4’-0”. It is typically installed in a “basket weave” pattern. This offers the ultimate in strength and lateral stability. Another important feature of the bolted stringer system is that it creates a direct path to ground the floor system. Equally important, this is critical for the safety of your floor and the equipment resting on it.
Manufacturers today offer 3 types of panel construction.
They are the particle board core, the hollow steel core and the cementitious core steel panel. The cementitious core steel panel is superior to the others when considering structural integrity, solid feel under foot and longevity. It is by far and away todays most popular panel type. The combination of a steel shell and cementitious fill creates a stiffer panel and thus less deflection when under load. The result being that the top steel sheet is fully supported. In addition, this panel offers over twice the capacity to handle heavy rolling loads. Moreover, weight exerted thru cart casters or pallet jacks on the panel top sheet is easily dispersed. Particle board core and hollow steel core panels are severely limited to handle rolling load conditions.
The most common floor covering in a data center raised floor is static dissipative high pressure laminate.
This floor covering comes factory bonded to the panel surface. Most important, it meets the properties necessary to dissipate any static charge built up on its surface. This is critical to the performance of any sensitive electronic equipment. High pressure laminate is not only critical for the equipment but it is easy to maintain. Simple damp mopping is all that’s needed. This floor covering is used in over 95% of all data center rooms.
Airflow being passed thru the data center raised floor to cool equipment has become a very hot topic in the industry.
With equipment processing information faster and faster, it is generating heat loads higher than we have ever seen. In the past, simple 25% open area perforated panels sprinkled across the room did the trick. Today that is not nearly enough to handle the complex requirements of servers and the racks they are placed in. Manufacturers have responded with high density airflow panels that more than double the airflow being delivered. It has gotten to the point where specific airflow models are being created to see where cool air is needed. It should be understood that these various airflow panels available are simply tools to deliver air. Cooling in the datacenter has evolved into a science that requires engineering input in its design.
In conclusion, the shortcomings of a poorly designed mechanical system can be catastrophic with equipment failures. We recommend that a coordinated effort between the owners IT group and the mechanical engineer is critical to the project success. Therefore, from a raised floor perspective, we can provide whatever may be necessary to cool the space. Just let us know.
We hope that this brief introduction will spur thought and discussion regarding your raised floor. Don’t overlook the importance of the platform that your state of the art equipment rests on. Raised floor is important too!