Data Center Cooling: The Latest Trends

May 15, 2018

Discussing hot trends in data center cooling with Janelle Penny, Senior Editor for BUILDINGS and Content Engagement Director Christoph Trappe.

BUILDINGS Media Episode 3: Data Center Cooling Trends

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Here's what we're talking about

Cooling is a constant concern for managers of data centers and server rooms. Not only is it expensive, but it’s required 24/7 to keep critical equipment within a safe temperature range. However, the large demand for data center cooling means that incremental efficiency improvements add up quickly.

  • Growing trends in data center cooling 
  • New roles for portable cooling
  • Smarter airflow management
  • Other ways to save money
  • Find more resources

3 Trends in Data Center Cooling Technology

1) Liquid-based cooling. Liquids transfer heat much more efficiently than air does, so implementing a cooling system that uses fluid to move heat away from servers can accomplish the same job as an air-based HVAC system with much less work. Some of the more popular liquid-based cooling systems include:

  • Warm-water cold-plate technology: The cold plates move liquid under devices. Using warm water in them instead of cold water means you no longer need a chiller to make cold water.
  • Water-side economizers: You may already be familiar with air-side economizers. Both types use outside weather conditions to offset some or all of the inside cooling. The difference is that a water-side model uses water loops and a liquid-to-liquid heat exchanger to either supplement or replace the chiller.
  • Immersion cooling: The data servers are either filled with dielectric fluid or placed in tanks of it. Liquid contact systems are similar but instead of totally immersing the server, the liquid contact system flows a fluid through the server to absorb heat from its heat sink.

2) Portable cooling. Portable units have been around for years, but they’re increasingly being used as primary cooling in places like in-building server rooms or facilities in areas with mild temperatures. They’re also great if you have budget or flexibility issues because they’re usually cheaper than permanent data center cooling systems and you can move them wherever you need them.

3) Smarter airflow management. Good space management means your existing HVAC doesn’t have to work as hard. The key is to minimize hot and cold air mixing so you’re not conditioning the same air twice. This can include effective containment strategies like hot and cold aisle configurations.

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Liquid Cooling Grows in Popularity

As with any new trend, liquid-based cooling needs time to grow in popularity, but newer liquid cooling technologies have improved a lot in terms of cost and risk. Data center managers are starting to catch on to how low the total cost of ownership can be, and many of the original concerns about liquid coolants (namely, the amount of storage space required and the inherent risks of having large quantities of oil-based coolant on-site) have been addressed by manufacturers.

Learn Other Ways to Save Money

Good management strategies are at the heart of any cost-cutting initiative.

Check out our featured webinar sponsored by MovinCool and Yaskawa, Optimizing Existing Data Centers to Increase Efficiencies and Lower Operating Costs. Chuck Kensky, Executive Vice President for Bala Consulting Engineers, will explain how to optimize equipment and operation for lower cooling costs.

Read More About Data Centers

Discover other data center articles, educational videos and more from BUILDINGS media.

About the Author

Janelle Penny | Editor-in-Chief at BUILDINGS

Janelle Penny has been with BUILDINGS since 2010. She is a two-time FOLIO: Eddie award winner who aims to deliver practical, actionable content for building owners and facilities professionals.

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