© Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

Ideal line in the server rack

Inside the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport garage the temper­a­ture in the IT rack came danger­ously close to a crit­ical point of over­heating. The team had to adapt the airflow inside the racks for which they needed ebm-papst’s exper­tise.


It processes data, secures the commu­ni­ca­tions between the team, the factory and the drivers, and so is an impor­tant compo­nent of racing oper­a­tions: The server rack in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport garage. “The collec­tion of event logging and alerting data for analysis of the under­lying infra­struc­ture is crit­ical at all times but espe­cially so during on-track sessions,” explains Matt Harris, Head of IT at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport. “Without this we can’t ensure consis­tent service and levels of perfor­mance expected by the team.”

That is why the server infra­struc­ture needs to work reli­ably within a specif­i­cally defined temper­a­ture range. However, at the hot race in Bahrain during the 2017 season, the rack came danger­ously close to over­heating. Team supplier ebm-papst was called for help to find a solu­tion. The objec­tive: Lower temper­a­tures in the server rack and ulti­mately elim­i­nate the risk of server failure.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­posrt replaced exisiting fans at the front and then at the rear of the rack with fans from ebm-papst. (Photo | Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport)

Air flow is key to optimal cooling

An initial analysis of the IT rack by the experts from ebm-papst revealed that it would be possible to make rapid improve­ments to the air duct design. In the existing config­u­ra­tion of the rack, the doors and side walls were not sealed. As air always takes the path of least resis­tance, it was flowing out of these open­ings and so was not avail­able for cooling the elec­tronic compo­nents. Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport there­fore sealed the open­ings to guide the air on a loss-free ideal line.

The server rack processes data and secures the commu­ni­ca­tions between the team, the factory and the drivers. (Photo | Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport)

In the next step, the team and ebm-papst exam­ined the fans. First of all, they grad­u­ally replaced exisiting at the front and then at the rear of the rack with fans from ebm-papst. The partic­ular chal­lenge here was that it was not possible to modify the instal­la­tion space and that ebm-papst had to work within extremely strict para­me­ters in making the right choice. Thanks to the exten­sive product port­folio of ebm-papst, however, they quickly managed to iden­tify suit­able fans.

Cool over the finishing line

The effects of this upgrade were partic­u­larly evident from the fact that the temper­a­ture differ­ence between the air flowing into the rack and flowing out of it is much lower than before the conver­sion. This shows that a larger volume of air is coming into contact with the hot areas in the rack, and so the equip­ment is being cooled more effi­ciently.

Matt Harris summed up: “We have a unique require­ment for our trav­el­ling server infra­struc­ture. We take the racks to various different parts of the world with different envi­ron­mental chal­lenges. In Singa­pore, it’s hot and humid, while in Bahrain it’s hot and dry, and it’s cold and can even snow at the tests in Barcelona. With the help of ebm-papst, we devel­oped a solu­tion that allows us to keep our systems running reli­ably even in harsh condi­tions.”

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