Methods of data center cooling
Cooling is a vital part of running a data center, preventing the high-end computing equipment from overheating and getting damaged or becoming a fire hazard. As data centers have increased in capability and size over the years, so has data center cooling had to adapt and increase in efficiency in order to keep up. There are several methods employed in data centers to keep equipment cool, each with its own benefits and shortfalls.
The most common of data center cooling solutions is air-based cooling, particularly hot aisle/cold aisle cooling. Cooled air is distributed throughout the data center, blown towards the row of servers and cooling the equipment as it goes. This method means that the air at the back of the row is hotter than at the front, which is where aisle containment comes into play. By facing the front of the rows towards each other, this creates an alternating hot and cold aisle structure so that no hot air is being directed towards the front of the servers, maximising cooling efficiency. It is often debated whether it is more efficient to then contain the hot aisles to prevent excess heat escaping, or to contain the cold aisles to maximise the cooling within those zones. Containing the hot aisles prevents the need for further air conditioning of the data center as a whole to maintain low temperatures, so it is argued that hot aisle containment is the more effective option. Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) is a common, fairly effective and inexpensive method of data center air cooling, however it is not the most energy-efficient option. Data centers are consuming more and more energy, and the need for efficient cooling to reduce environmental impact is key for the future of data centers.
In row cooling is another type of air cooling that involves placing the coolers in between each server in the rack, creating a horizontal cooling flow throughout the aisle. This allows for precise, even and efficient cooling, drawing air from the hot aisle and cooling it to create a constant flow. However, water cooling has become a more popular method of data center cooling in recent years as it is more energy-efficient than air cooling. Rear door heat exchangers employ liquid cooling: they are affixed to the back of the server to remove the heat generated by the computing equipment directly at the source. They operate with a closed-loop water system preventing the risk of leaks and keeping all active equipment safe as well as sufficiently cooled. Immersion cooling is another growing method of liquid data center cooling that involves submerging hardware in a coolant liquid that extracts heat from the source, though this method is currently not as popular as other types of liquid cooling.
If you’re in need of an efficient cooling solution for your data center, USystems provides a range of industry-leading options including rear door coolers, in-row coolers and aisle containment solutions. We’re committed to providing the most efficient data center solutions to minimise environmental impact and to make sure your data center stays achieves optimal cooling.