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Why data centers around the world are working out ways to cool off

News recently splashed on the internet that data centers in the UK were using hosepipes to keep cool amidst the heat wave, spraying roof-mounted air conditioning units with water. Small data centers running close to full capacity were using the spray to lower the ambient temperature around the air conditioning unit’s coils to ensure they dissipated heat effectively.

Now, here’s the thing. Experts say that using temporary solutions like hosepipes to cool data centers may do more harm than good as they are possibly shortening the equipment’s life. Hard water for instance if used to hose the equipment can lead to scaling as opposed to properly designed evaporative cooling systems using treated water.

Cooling is crucial to data centers, and companies are doing everything they can to get it right because they know if hardware gets too hot, it can increase failure rates and result in downtime leading to losses in revenue and productivity. Cooling also accounts on average for about 40% of energy use in a datacentre, so it pays to make cooling as efficient as possible.

Different companies are exploring different alternatives. Some are experimenting with direct water cooling of server hardware, some are swapping out fan coolers in servers for water blocks, and others are placing regular air-cooled servers in special water-cooled racks.

They did what?!

In 2018, Microsoft ran an underwater data center in a sealed tube! The project ran for two years and had some benefits like reduced land costs and better cooling. The company has now developed a two-phase immersion cooling tank for data center use to submerge conventional servers in a proprietary liquid developed by 3M. As the server hardware heats up, the liquid heats up and absorbs huge amounts of energy in the latent heat of vaporization, required for the liquid to boil. The gaseous coolant then cools the servers.

More recently, Chinese hyperscale data center provider Chindata announced a new waterless cooling system, the world’s first they say, claiming that it enables data centers to work without consuming any water, giving it a water usage effectiveness figure of zero.

Tried and tested cooling methods

Now, while the above are the more novel methods, there are several tried and tested cooling techniques in use at data centers, such as:

  1. Proper aisle containment extracts warm air to keep the temperatures low

  2. Raised flooring to help vent out hot air efficiently

  3. Water cooling or liquid coolants help keep the temperature better regulated at a lower cost

Every little bit counts when it comes to cooling

When it comes to cooling, every little bit — investing in the right data center hardware and accessories for example — counts. Hardy Racks for instance has a SMART Cooling Unit (Cooling Fan Tray), which is among its best-selling products. This help with facilitating air flow within the rack by adding ventilation where it is needed most. The unit sits directly on top of rack enclosures. These are usually used in conjunction with blanking panels to maximize airflow. Get in touch with us to know more.


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