© 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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