Geist SwitchAirBox passiv

Highly efficient passive cooling of network switches in racks directs cold airflow to the side

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends an increase in the environmental temperature in data centres or the supply temperature to cool the active hardware to a delta T between 18 and 27 degrees Celsius to save energy and increase the flexibility of cooling systems in data centres. Every additional degree Celsius above the initial temperature reduces cooling system load by approximately three to five percent and translates directly into potential energy savings.

Cold air intake at the front of the rack can cause side-cooled network switches to overheat or fail

While this practice has proven successful in optimising cooling for servers in racks, the general increase in the intake temperature has contributed to more failures of network switches and routers. The main reason is that, if the rack holds a combination of servers and network equipment, the cold air is generally routed to the front of the rack, drawn in by the servers there and exhausted at the back of the rack as hot air. The problem here is that the fans of network switches are located on the side in the chassis which means that they also have to be cooled from the side. The ideal direction for the flow of cold air is therefore not "mainstream", i.e. front-to-back, as in the case of servers. The network switches are not sufficiently cooled from the front and, as a result, can easily overheat and potentially fail. Overheating and its consequences can be further accelerated if the unoccupied rack units or the side rack profiles of the front-cooled racks are equipped with panels. These generally advisable measures to prevent the warm air emitted by servers from recirculating to the cold aisle through the racks unfortunately constricts the cold air intake for the network switches and creates a bottleneck of warm air right where the side-mounted fans of the network switches are positioned in the chassis. One possible remedy would be an additional and very expensive rack cooling system. The other, a SwitchAirBox, is a very affordable and purely mechanical airflow solution.

The solution: Inexpensive SwitchAirBox cools network switches with side-mounted fans in racks

The SwitchAirBox GSA1-001 is a metal chassis that supports all 1RU switches. The cold air coming in at the front of the rack is directed through a channel on the right or left side (depending on which side the network switches are installed) of the chassis to the backward-facing network switch. The flow of air is then guided at a 90° angle so that it can be drawn in by the switch fans, ideally on the side The warm exhaust air is routed from the switch in the centre of the chassis to the rack and then directly to the warm aisle. This ensures that the network equipment in the rack always has an optimum supply of cold air and that the systems are effectively protected against heat-related failures.

The highlights of the SwitchAirBox GSA1-001

  • Purely mechanical system for routing cool air from the front of the cabinets to the side in racks
  • Suitable for 1RU network switches
  • Warm air exhausted at the centre of the chassis
  • Can be installed when the network equipment is in operation
  • Optimum supply of cold air for backward-facing network switches
  • Eliminates the need for additional expensive rack cooling systems
  • Protects switches and other IT equipment from overheating and failures
  • Retains the thermal advantages of front rack panels
  • Fast ROI within just a few months

Cooling and failure protection for network switches installed in the rack with rear-facing fans

The SwitchAirBox GSA1-002 is a metal chassis that supports conventional 1RU network switches with rear-mounted fans. The cold air coming in at the front of the rack is passively routed via the chassis of the SwitchAirBox to the backward-facing switch so that it can be drawn in at a perfect angle by the side-mounted switch fans. After cooling, the warm air is exhausted at the back of the rack by the network switch and routed to the warm aisle. This ensures that the network equipment always has an optimum supply of cold air and that the systems are effectively protected against heat-related malfunctions or even failures.

The highlights of the SwitchAirBox GSA1-002

  • Purely mechanical system for routing cold air from the front to the back-cooled switch
  • Ideal for network devices with rear-mounted fans
  • Can be installed during operation
  • Optimum supply of cold air for rear-facing network switches
  • Fast ROI within just a few months
  • Protects network switches from overheating and failure in racks with front panels
  • Compatible with Cisco Catalyst 4948 E-F and Nexus 2248 and 2232 series

Active version of the SwitchAirBox also available with integrated fans and as a version for Cisco 6509 and Nexus 7018 switche

In rack environments where the supply of cold air is difficult or inadequate, all active versions of the SwitchAirBox are available with an air rate flow of 1.4 cubic metres per minute (equivalent to 48 CFM). We also offer a passive 9RU system to direct the exhaust air to the warm aisle for Cisco 6509 and Nexus 7018 switches integrated in racks.