Dell's announcement is in line with new temperature guidelines due in September from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers. ASHRAE has said it will raise its maximum allowable temperature to 113 degrees Fahrenheit, from 95 degrees Fahrenheit previously, also with fresh-air cooling in mind.
If customers want servers that can run hotter year-round, as opposed to short periods, vendors would almost certainly have to design new products, said Don Beaty, president of consulting firm DLB Associates and a member of ASHRAE's TC 9.9 committee, which is authoring the guidelines.
Those products may have to be less dense, and therefore physically larger, to allow for better airflow, and would cost more to purchase, he said.
But that shouldn't be necessary for data centers located where very high temperatures are an infrequent occurrence, Wilcox said.
"The idea here is to design for the 'can happen,' but not to design for continuous operation [at high temperatures] because you'd be paying a premium for that," he said.
The Dell products covered by the announcement include its PowerEdge R610, R710 and T610 servers; PowerConnect 7048R / 7048RA and 8024 / 8024F switches; PowerVault MD1xx and MD3xx storage arrays, and some EqualLogic products. Its PDUs (power distribution units) are also covered.