WTF is Containment and Why Does it Matter
Heat recirculation can be tricky. Oftentimes it is not discovered until a build is complete and energized. Heat recirculation causes havoc in hot environments. Too much cold air can wreak havoc on those sissy little Antminers everyones loves to run in colder climates. Yes, too cold can be a problem for bootup. Well WTF does containment mean anyway? The definition tells us:
1. The act or condition of containing.
2. A policy of checking the expansion or influence of a hostile power or ideology, as by the creation of strategic alliances or support of client states in areas of conflict or unrest.
3. A structure or system designed to prevent the accidental release of radioactive materials from a reactor.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
The purpose of containment in the Bitcoin mining space is to separate the hot and cold air and avoid heat recirculation into the servers. Bitcoin computer servers put out excessive heat with temps in excess of 140 F/60C at 350+ cubic feet per minute of air (CFM) of air per worker. Tracking down and repairing hotspots in a build can be as fun as trying to find a water leak in a roof deck. If you have half assed or no containment in place this can be troubling. Employing best practices can save time in initial deployment and hours of battling hot spots or cold start shenanigans in the future during weather events.
Several container/pod manufacturers over the years have significantly improved their builds to deal with this issue. Upstream Data has incorporated high-pressure inlet booster fans for the Texas pods (Hash Hut). A walk through of their newer Hash Hut can be seen here with the Canadian Hipster Steve Barbour doing a walk through.
Best practices in the field ~Aaron Hall SunDog Mining.
- Use good quality material to separate the hot and cold aisle. Common materials utilized at scale are C&C cutouts or foam/polycarbonate materials.
- Push the unit through the cutout of the heat aisle; it generally works better than placing it up against it.
- Also don’t skimp on the tape. You’ll buy once and cry once. Heat rated tape only
Trouble Shooting Tips
- Oftentimes you may be chasing down a heat leak when in fact you have an inflow problem. This could be caused by dirty filters/screen or just not enough inflow ~ Jeff Hotz
- It is not uncommon to underestimate the inflow requirements. This can be a trial and error process unless you’re a large pubco with engineers onhand to calculate air flow requirements. Ideally, you want as much air coming in that is going out.
- Invest in or borrow from a fren a FLIR camera. Use it to detect where the hot and cold air is recirculating. This can save you hours chasing hot spots in your build. Below is a photo shared by Jeff Hotz or shall I say Dot’s Giga Mining Container.
Distributed Hash has been experimenting with shroud technology in conjunction with Cryptocloaks to reduce hot air recirculation and increase efficiency. Their preliminary documentation can be seen here. They have been working with large scale operations to increase efficiencies.
At Home Mining Ingenuity
At home miners rely heavily on shrouds and ductwork to reuse the heat in the winter or move the heat outside in the warmer months. Significant innovation has come from at home miners over the last couple years. Balancing a 70 decibel screaming cyber hornet in your basement or the garage can be troubling for a married man. Inasmuch, there have been significant breakthroughs from what Max & Jon of the Bit Buy Bit Podcast have dubbed Pleb Miners.
With the invention of Zack Bombsta Njord Cloudline Board Antminer X19 users can install inline fans coupled with Zack Bombsta Njord Cloudline board to control inline fans. Travis Bickel has a clean example of incorporating good containment with inline fans and the use of Zack’s Njord Board. In this example Travis has removed his stock fans and incorporated AC infinity fans utilizing the Njord Board to control the air flow. Note the shrouds connections for the heat capture in this example. With the use of inline fans and insulated ducting Travis is able to mine sats while maintaining a healthy relationship with his wife. The decibel reduction is significant when the low-cost factory fans are removed and replaced with a quieter fan designed more so for cannabis production.
You can have mediocre success with half-ass containment like I currently employ in the barn. It works better than nothing and it is suitable in many applications. If I didn’t spend so much time typing articles for BBB Podcast and Ungovernable Misfits website for Jon to read I could get off my ass and finish my containment by walling this off with C&C metal. Originally, I just had a couple few servers in my loft on a rack in front of a 4,000 CFM fan. As I began to add more servers, the CFM increased and so did the British Thermal Units (BTU) coming out of my brrr machines. During the hotter part of the day the barn was getting in the high 90s. The heat coming from the rear of the servers was blowing back. Here are examples of what I call Half-Ass Containment. Keep in mind this will help better than nothing. Could it be better if the above recommendations are employed absolutely, you bet.
This was not meant to be a scientific read and melt faces with technical documentation. The goal was to bring attention to the importance of capturing and preventing recirculation of heat into your mining servers. The more servers you add to the space the more BTU’s you’re going to get pouring out on the other end. This heat needs to be directed somewhere properly, otherwise it’s going to get sucked back up into your mining servers. You can mitigate heat recirculation with proper containment protocols in place by creating a hot aisle with many different products including C&C barriers, shrouds, ducting, and heat resistant duct tape. Remember, half ass-containment > no containment.
Keep Building, Keep Hashing