Ambient Temperature

Reviewed by: Richard Becker
Last Updated: August 14, 2020

Definition - What does Ambient Temperature mean?

Ambient temperature is a measure of the temperature around a given asset or piece of equipment or other object. Essentially, the term implies a subject, which is unusual in IT or any other kind of semantics, and creates some confusion.

In IT, ambient temperature is most often used to talk about controls on cooling for high-performance equipment, such as servers or data centers. As big data revolutionized IT, ambient temperatures and cooling became even more critically important to support the services that we all use.

For a basic understanding of what this term means, it's helpful to think of ambient temperature as the "temperature of surroundings." It's like room temperature in that ambient temperature control often strives for a temperature of around 72°F.

However, it's not like room temperature in that ambient temperature specifically implies the handling of temperatures in a space that supports some type of equipment or other business installation.

Techopedia explains Ambient Temperature

Traditionally, businesses implemented ambient temperature controls for server rooms where they kept the physical rack servers that facilitated network traffic.

Later, all sorts of virtual vendor services and collocation and cloud and software as a service (SaaS) models eliminated the need to keep many of these hardware setups functioning on site.

Then, ambient temperature became a concern increasingly handled by vendors at remote locations. This also led to huge savings for client companies of all kinds: instead of trying to build their own on-site cooling solutions, they could simply outsource the hardware, and outsource all of the headaches that came with supporting that hardware physically — including the cooled server room.

Ambient Temperature in Data Centers

In a data center, ambient temperature is often maintained by large-scale cooling systems that cool the entire data center facility, where the centralized server racks often work 24/7 providing computing capacity to customers over the global Internet.

Assessing large-scale power requirements is one part of setting up the systems that will maintain ambient temperature: for instance, some experts estimate 10 to 20 kw/h per cabinet. One challenge is how to do maintenance when the system requires 100% uptime.

Then there are also efficiencies to be promoted: best practices recommended for data center administrators by trade groups include setting up floor tiles correctly, and monitoring systems for various kinds of air leaks.

Cooling Pads

While many ambient temperature systems for server rooms and data centers work on the principle of forced air, other types of ambient temperature controls can use radiant cooling to support devices.

One of the prime examples is a laptop cooling pad. Many of these items can be bought at any electronics store. They typically involve a small, portable frame with some type of cooling component inside.

These may use radiant cooling or forced air cooling in the form of fans to cool down a laptop or device that is running hot. The smaller laptop cooling pads are valuable in maintaining ambient temperature for portable devices that use high-powered CPUs and GPUs.

These technologies have come a long way in the past few years, but the small cores can generate quite a bit of heat as they accomplish the massive computing power needed to for games and high-end graphics rendering and everything else.

To recap, ambient temperature is the term used to evaluate how air is kept temperate for hardware systems. And it’s important.

This definition was written in the context of Data Centers
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