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Data Center Cooling Systems: Present and Future

The data being generated and consumed throughout the world is increasing at an exponential rate. This means that the data load on the existing data centers is also rising, which further results in the expansion of data center capacity. This makes data centers consume large amounts of electricity – they are among the highest energy-consuming industries on the planet.

Naturally, dealing with such high amounts of energy loads results in large heat emissions – dealing with these high levels of heat is critical for the health of a data center. If not tackled properly, heat can hamper performance, lead to increased downtime and even damage servers. 

The following are some of the most widely used cooling techniques at data centers across the world today. 

Computer Room Air Conditioning 

Commonly known as CRAC, these use traditional air conditioning techniques where air is drawn across a refrigerant-filled cooling system to keep the temperatures down. Although they use a lot of power themselves, these are often favoured because of their lower costs. 

Cold Aisle/Hot Aisle Systems

This is a simple but effective system of heat management where data centers position their server racks with alternating rows of cold aisles and hot aisles. A cold aisle can be described as an aisle that takes in air from its front and converts it into cold air to blow through the server racks. A hot aisle is one which emits hot air from the rear of the server racks. These are usually placed in an alternating sequence so that the hot air dispelled by the hot aisles can be taken in by the cold aisles and be converted into cold air, thus keeping the temperature down throughout the data center. 

Free Cooling

As the name suggests, this is a type of cooling that benefits from cool air from outside the data centres rather than continuously having to generate cold air. This is an effective way of cooling your data centre and helps cut down on costs substantially. This is a major reason why a lot of data centres can be found in colder regions of the planet. 

Evaporative Cooling

In this cooling technique, the hot air in the data center is exposed to water which leads to its evaporation. This change in the state of water takes away the heat from the air and then the only concern that remains is to get the moisture out of the data centre. Usually, this is accomplished by cooling towers that are responsible for releasing the moisture in the air outside the data center. 

Now that we have touched upon some of the current techniques, let’s glimpse what the future of cooling looks like.

Immersion Cooling

This is a type of cooling where the hardware is dipped in a liquid to which the heat is then transferred. The type of liquid, however, must be chosen with great care and have properties like being non-conductive, non-flammable and dielectric. Both the fluid and the hardware are stored in leak-proof cases and once the fluid has absorbed the heat, it evaporates and then condensates to form a cycle. 

Direct-to-Chip Cooling

This type of cooling system delivers liquid coolant directly to a metal plate via tubes. The coolant then sits on a metal plate above the motherboard and absorbs heat from it directly. The heat is then sent off to a cooling plant and then released into the atmosphere. 

All the above techniques point out to the fact that these are exciting times for data centers and we are sure to witness a lot of innovation in the coming years! To stay up to date with the latest trends in data center cooling and to ensure that your cooling systems are planned optimally, talk to us at Hardy Racks today!

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