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Cleaning out our server room, we found two of these:

IBM eServer xSeries dummy heatsink assembly

IBM eServer xSeries dummy heatsink assembly

I can't find any documentation on what they were used for (presumably during shipping or for a multi-socket Xeon board with only 1 CPU installed); can anyone tell me what they are?

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'm more familiar with Dell servers that often stipulate special blank covers must be fitted over other blanks that may be filled by parts not present (esp Hard Drive Bays/PSU's) for thermal issues.

It wouldn't surprise me if the people who designed that server did some complicated analysis of airflow, and the results made them decide to supply a whole processor/heatsink blank to ensure a predetermined amount of airflow over the rest of the components.

Edit: Unless they were just trying to make life easy for a newbie who had never seen a 2nd CPU slot on a motherboard and didn't know where to fit the damn thing.

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The "front" label and arrow did make me think it had something to do with airflow. I think you've nailed it. –  Andrew Jan 19 '12 at 2:00
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+1 I've seen this with dell too. They love to have blanks where items are missing to maintain a specific airflow design. It's very fancy fluid dynamics stuff. –  Jon Jan 19 '12 at 2:17
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this is exactly right. Same reason you need the blanks on the hard drive bays –  Jim B Jan 19 '12 at 2:30
    
Airflow is indeed the reason. This has become quite critical as component densities and heat generation have increased. For those who might doubt this I can only suggest you take temperature measurements with and without the dummy/blanking piece. –  John Gardeniers Jan 19 '12 at 3:54
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It's for controlling the airflow - without the blank there would be a huge void space which will generate nearly no resistance to the airflow - and so will take away airflow where it is needed - like the heatsink of the real CPU - possible generating all kinds of thermal problems.

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