Improving the cooling efficiency of servers has become an essential requirement in data centers today as the power used to cool the servers has become an increasingly large component of the total power consumption. Additionally, fan speed control has emerged in recent years as a critical part of system thermal architecture. However, the state of the art in server fan control often results in over provisioning of air flow that leads to high fan power consumption. It can be exacerbated in server architectures that share cooling resources among server components, where single hot spot can often drive the operation of a multiplicity of fans. To address this problem, this paper presents a novel multi-input multi-output (MIMO) fan controller that utilizes thermal models developed from first-principles to manipulate the operation of fans. The controller tunes the speeds of individual fans proactively based on prediction of the sever temperatures. Experimental results show that, with fans controlled by the optimal controller, over-provisioning of cooling air is eliminated, temperatures are more tightly controlled and fan energy consumption is reduced by up to 20% compared to that with a zone-based feedback controller.

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