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Data Center Electromagnetic Interference and Tier Standards

Key Takeaways

  • The importance of data centers. 

  • The impact of data center electromagnetic interference.

  • The Tier standards that regulate data centers.

 Data Center

Data center electromagnetic interference is a major threat to the storage, processing, and distribution of data

Today, many of us can’t imagine a day of work without using a computer. From clerical work to engineering, the importance of computers is apparent across all industries. To support our increasing use of computers, data centers are used to house computer systems, servers, remote storage, and associated components.

Data centers use high power and high current utility. Unfortunately, the electromagnetic fields associated with the high power and high current in data centers are sources of electromagnetic interference. Data center electromagnetic interference is a major threat to the storage, processing, and distribution of data; any problem arising due to data center electromagnetic interference will affect the workings of the organization the data center supports. That is why it is critical to limit or mitigate data center electromagnetic interference

The Importance of Data Centers 

The importance of data centers is increasing in technology-based organizations. Communicating, processing, distributing, and retrieving data has completely changed with new technologies. The advancement of the Internet initiated increased data consumption, and now there is a need for large data networks to cope with emerging industry trends. Data centers are the key infrastructure enabling data-driven industries, so maintaining data centers’ electromagnetic immunity is important for the smooth and reliable running of organizations. 

Data Center Electromagnetic Interference

Data centers store, manage, and disseminate data as well as offer instant availability and security features for the data stored. As stated, the use of high power and high current in data centers generates electromagnetic fields that lead to electromagnetic interference, which is detrimental to IT equipment and electronic devices. Let’s look at two types of electromagnetic interference and how they impact data centers.

  • Low-frequency EMI in data centers is usually caused by power supplies. This type of EMI damages associated hardware. It can corrupt the data in servers and can permanently erase the hard disk. 
  • High-level EMI has a direct impact on data transmission. When the data is transmitted as packets, the influence of high-level EMI can result in the loss of packet sequence and data. The induced voltages in cables and networks due to EMI can even corrupt the entire data packet and can prevent the successful reception of data at the receiving end. 

Data center EMI is not just a threat to information security; system malfunction and crashes are expensive events that can be caused by data center EMI. A short downtime due to data center EMI can cost millions, and, if the data loss is permanent, it can affect future business dealings of the entire organization. Luckily, there are some standards set to evaluate the reliability and quality of data centers. 

Tier Standards

The reliability and quality of data centers can be evaluated using the Tier Standards issued by the Uptime Institute. The Tier standards start at one and go up to four—Tier I standards regulate the simplest infrastructure of data centers, whereas Tier 4 standards regulate complex data centers. The Tier standards address the requirements of the components used in data centers. The design rules given in the Tier standards are capable of mitigating EMI threats during data center uptime.

  1. Tier 1 data centers - Simple data centers providing a single path for powering and cooling, with an annual downtime of 28.8 hours. 
  2. Tier 2 data centers - Offers some backup components along with Tier 1 standards. The downtime of Tier 2 data centers is 22 hours annually. 
  3. Tier 3 data centers - Offers multiple paths for power and cooling without going offline for maintenance and updates. The downtime of a Tier 3 data center is 1.6 hours annually. 
  4. Tier 4 data centers - Completely fault-tolerant data centers with redundancy for each and every component. An annual downtime of only 26.3 minutes.

By establishing data centers that follow the Tier standards, organizations can ensure that data center electromagnetic interference does not cause too many issues. Cadence’s software can help when setting up data centers that adhere to the Tier standards.  

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