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Why Should Data Center Operators Make the Switch to Liquid Cooling?

Innovations in data center efficiency and performance


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Data center facility planners, thermal engineers and architects are responsible for enabling the mission critical internet and cloud services that we all depend on. This critical infrastructure allows us to take advantage of the benefits of rapidly developing technologies that are changing the way we work, shop and interact with one another in an electrified world.  

Constant advancements in technology and connectivity drive new applications and an increased need to safeguard the world’s data and networks. Ensuring the continuous flow of information is essential. At the same time, because of increased energy costs and the need to reduce carbon footprint, energy efficiency is more important than it ever has been. As demand for data increases, it is critical that data center managers can implement high-powered equipment that meets the ever-changing needs of customers, while minimizing energy consumption.  

A key part of this equation is how data centers approach cooling. For data center equipment to run as intended, it needs to be kept within a specified temperature range. However, many legacy cooling systems in data centers and server rooms use air cooling systems that simply cannot keep up with new, high-powered equipment.  

Because of the need for increased data center density, combined with the intense cooling next gen chips require, air cooling is becoming less feasible for many operators. Densely packed server racks impede airflow and air cooling cannot handle high heat loads efficiently. Data centers that try to cope by increasing air velocity can quickly become a wind-tunnel-like environment that is difficult to work in and expensive to operate. 

When air cooling systems need to work overtime to maintain necessary operating temperatures, facilities can experience equipment failures, unplanned downtime and high energy costs. When air cooling is not able to meet cooling demands, liquid cooling can be a good alternative. Many new high-performance servers are designed with liquid cooling in mind. 

Liquid cooling can be a good choice for protecting mission critical equipment and reducing downtime. Also, it can offer a strong return on investment and total cost of ownership for data center facilities. Liquid cooling systems offer effective solutions for achieving required temperature parameters and lowering energy consumption of cooling systems, thus lowering operating costs. Liquid provides a much greater heat transfer capacity – 3,500 times higher than that of air – because liquid is denser than air. Liquid cooling can also dramatically increase power usage effectiveness (PUE), reducing energy costs and contributing to environmental sustainability.  

There are three primary types of liquid cooling:  

  • Indirect water-cooled: Heat is transferred to water through an air-to-water heat exchanger located within a row or cabinet.  

  • Direct water-cooled: Heat is transferred directly to an attached heat transfer component, such as a cold plate. 

  • Hybrid direct and indirect water-cooled: Selective cooling of the highest energy-consuming components with direct contact liquid cooling; the balance of the cabinet is cooled via secondary air-to-water cooling device 

To learn more about liquid cooling and what it takes to make the switch, download our white paper



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