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3 Reasons to Consider Liquid Cooling Solutions

As data center managers understand, the demand for data is on the rise. Content streaming, online banking, cloud computing, sophisticated smartphone apps, edge computing, eCommerce and artificial intelligence are just a few examples of applications driving this demand. Along with increased demand comes increased pressure on data center operators to deliver better performance for their customers.   

New applications driven by constant advancements in technology and connectivity are creating an increased need to safeguard the world’s data and networks. Ensuring the continuous flow of information is essential. Concurrently, growing pressure and increased energy costs are encouraging companies to reduce their carbon footprint, making energy efficiency even more crucial than before. Therefore, it is critical that data center managers can implement high-powered equipment that meets the fluctuating needs of customers while also minimizing energy consumption — for capability, environmental and cost reasons.  

An essential part of this equation is how data centers approach cooling. Air cooling systems are used in many legacy cooling systems in data centers and server rooms but simply cannot keep up with new, high-powered equipment. As we prepare for a more sustainable and electrified future, here are three key considerations for data center managers considering liquid cooling: 

1: Increases Capacity While Maintaining Efficient Space and Energy Use   

Increased data center density is making air cooling 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 are expensive to operate and difficult to work in since they can quickly become wind tunnel-like environments.   

When it is necessary for air cooling systems to work overtime to maintain operating temperatures, facilities can also experience equipment failures, high energy costs and unplanned downtime. Liquid cooling can offer better performance, save energy and help many data centers operate more sustainably. 

Liquid cooling can help data centers increase capacity and maintain efficient space and energy use. It can also lower the total cost of ownership and offer a favorable return on investment for data center facilities. Liquid cooling systems provide an effective solution for reducing the energy consumption of cooling systems and achieving the required temperature parameters. With liquid cooling systems, data centers can have a greater heat transfer capacity – 3,500 times higher than that of air – which helps liquid cooling increase power usage effectiveness (PUE), reducing energy costs and contributing to environmental sustainability.   

There are three primary types of liquid cooling: 

  • Direct liquid-cooled: Heat is transferred directly to an attached liquid-cooled heat transfer component, such as an immersion cooling or cold plate.  

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

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

To decide which option is best for your data center specifically, reach out to an nVent expert, who can share their expertise and help determine which solution best suits your individual needs.  


2: Prepare Operations for the Future and Power of Next-Gen IT Equipment   

As technology advances, IT equipment continues to require more power which typically means higher heat loads. To cool this advanced equipment in an air-cooled data center, facilities are required to deliver more air through server racks. The energy efficiency problem brought on by advanced IT equipment compounds itself: chips require more power and generate more heat that requires additional power put towards cooling.   

Data center managers and IT professionals know it is necessary to continue to chase performance for their customers. Data center managers need to maximize cooling performance to take advantage of new business cases, better performance and new types of workloads that next-generation technology enables. In many data centers, cooling high-powered equipment with air cooling is simply no longer feasible.  

Many new IT and chip technologies are now being designed with liquid cooling in mind. To meet the future demands of their customers as they seek improved performance and next-generation IT equipment, data centers that only deploy air cooling may struggle.  


3: Liquid Cooling Technology Enables Many Different Cooling Approaches   

Liquid-to-liquid cooling occurs where liquid lines cool both chips and racks. This type of cooling is extremely effective but requires liquid lines, valves and connections for every rack position throughout a facility. Although the upfront investment can seem daunting, it is likely to pay off in the long run because of increased capacity, performance, future-readiness and energy efficiency.  

However, there is an alternative path that allows data center managers to bring the high performance of liquid cooling into data centers that only have air-cooling infrastructure at the facility level: liquid-to-air cooling.  

Liquid-to-air cooling can help data centers take advantage of existing air-cooling infrastructure while helping cool IT equipment more effectively. Data center managers can implement liquid-to-air cooling systems as an extension to existing infrastructure. This methodology eases the burden placed on air coolers by bringing liquid cooling to the rack and server level while operating within an air-cooled infrastructure. This approach may often be deployed more quickly, and with a lower investment than deploying a complete facility-level liquid-to-liquid cooling architecture.     

In liquid-to-air cooling, servers and chips are cooled by either immersion liquid cooling or direct contact liquid. Liquid-to-air cooling solutions can include row-level or rack-level (such as a rear door) heat exchanger configurations. The liquid is circulated through liquid-cooled servers, and the heat is radiated from the liquid through an external heat exchanger to the room. To remove the ambient heat and maintain desired room-level temperature, the room air-cooling infrastructure is utilized.  

These kinds of solutions might be an ideal fit for data centers managers that are not able to mitigate the cost and potential downtime of a full retrofitting project. As the world becomes more sustainable and electrified, investments in new IT technology and next-generation equipment will only increase. Whether it is implementing hybrid technologies or a full retrofitting project, the time to consider the benefits of liquid cooling is now.  


To learn more about nVent solutions, visit Data Centers and Networking | nVent DATA-SOLUTIONS.