Definition

Hot spot/cold spot

A hot spot/cold spot is an undesirable tightly-focused local temperature variation which often occurs when data center equipment is improperly cooled.

Hot spots are a serious issue that can result in equipment damage. Consider a typical blade server which may individually include several processors and a large quantity of memory. These components can demand a significant amount of power – much of that power is dissipated as heat. When many blade servers are installed into a tight, highly integrated chassis, the cumulative heat may not be dissipated adequately by the available cooling resources. This results in one or more areas of excess temperature within the blade chassis. In extreme cases, the excess heating may allow processors, memory modules or other blade server components to fail.

Proper cooling design is critical in addressing the hot spots encountered with modern, dense IT equipment. When a hot spot is discovered, it may be necessary to reconfigure or relocate the affected equipment or provide supplemental local cooling (point cooling) to address the condition.

A cold spot may develop on or around equipment that receives excess cooling – perhaps the equipment is located too close to a floor grate or inlet. When a cold spot is discovered, it’s important to review the air flow and rectify any disruptions. When a surface becomes unusually cold, it often means that the cooling air flow is being obstructed.  Cold spots may also pose a moisture danger. If a surface temperature falls below the surrounding air’s dew point, condensation may form and allow liquid water to accumulate in a location that might damage equipment.

Contributor(s): Stephen J. Bigelow
This was last updated in February 2012
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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