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Friday, June 16, 2006

Hewlett-Packard is adapting fans from radio-controlled jets to relieve heat-stressed computer servers.

From Technology Review: "The computer servers that fill huge data centers are producing more heat with every new generation of processors. It's a problem that's sending engineers on a search for cooling fans that are both small enough to fit inside ever-smaller server chassis and powerful enough to dispel increasing amounts of heat. At Hewlett-Packard, they've found one answer in an unexpected place: model jet airplanes.

To cool its next generation of commercial servers, the company is using electric-ducted fans (EDFs), originally developed by model airplane hobbyists to power radio-controlled jets. Essentially propellers in a box, the fans run so fast and produce so much air pressure that they should be able to provide the cooling needs for the next several generations of HP servers, according to Wade Vinson, an engineer in the company's Industry Standard Server Group.


In an electric-ducted fan, which is the most popular form of radio-controlled jet motor, the fan's blades are placed inside a tube, or "duct." Because the blades are shorter than typical propeller blades, they spin faster, thereby creating more thrust. Furthermore, the duct reduces noise and prevents air vortices from forming around the tips of the blades -- which saps the thrust produced by traditional propellers."

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