The Evolution of Data Center Design and the Rise of Liquid Cooling

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As technology evolves at a rapid pace, it is important to understand the evolution of data center components. In fact, we should be focusing on concepts like airflow management and data center cooling management. It has only been a few years since the best practices for airflow management were established.

Conversation about this first surfaced in the 1990s, when the standard method at the time of organizing computer rooms with front-facing racks proved impractical. The engineers of the data center solution added the assortment of hot and cold aisle server racks. Having recognized the value of separating hot and cold aisles, a notion of good practice has emerged to improve the advantages of this separation.

In 2005, Intel and Oracle reported on several case study projects in which they had deployed server cabinets using vertical exhaust ducts or chimneys connecting the cabinets to a return air duct. suspended ceiling. It completely separated the return air from the entire data center. However, studies highlighted cooling efficiency and the potential for higher rack capacity, the most notable aspect cited by the study measuring evidence of lower cooling energy costs. .

Shortly after the report, in June 2006, the Lawrence Berkeley Nationals Labs reported to the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in Oakland, California. The study included a cold aisle containment experiment which resulted in significant savings on cooling unit fan energy, increased energy and energy saving hours for the cooling installation. to a higher set point, after the conversation about data center airflow management has shifted from its goal of efficiency to efficiency. .

During the 1990s and 2000s, operators and designers worried about the ability of air cooling technologies to quickly cool power-hungry servers. With design densities reaching over five kilowatts per cabinet, some thought operators should look for rear door heat exchangers and in-row cooling mechanisms to meet the increasing densities.

For decades, computer rooms and data centers continued to use raised floor systems to supply cold air to servers. Cold air from an air handling unit or computer room air conditioner has pressurized the space under the raised floor. In addition, the perforated tiles allow cold air to leave the plenum and flow into the main space. Once the air has passed through the server, the reheated air returns to the cooled CRAH / CRAC, usually after combining with the cold air. It was the most standard data center design for many years, and it is still used today.

But will it still be effective for next-gen workloads and server designs?

The demand for improved data center cooling and server design

There is a very simple concept of cooling servers. Heat should be removed from the electrical components of computer equipment and the server to reduce the risk of component overheating. If the server gets too hot, the onboard logic will be disabled to protect the server from damage. In addition to heat, you also need to worry about particle contamination.

Some analytics and big data servers are extremely sensitive to such tampering. In addition to the threats of physical particulate contamination, there are certain treatments for gaseous contamination. Certain types of gas cause corrosion of electronic components. Such types of conventional cooling system will always have a place in the data center. But new workloads need a better way to cool the servers they’re running on.

Growing adoption of liquid cooling

There was a time when liquid cooling was seen as a puzzle piece that usually complicated data centers. By implementing new design considerations as well as data center architectures, liquid cooling has taken on a new form, making it more consumable than before. Leaders use liquid cooling systems designed to offer solution providers like STL Tech holistic turnkey packages. These designs include specially designed platforms, software, and liquid cooling components.

Additionally, administrators use a plug-and-play liquid cooling framework that effectively integrates into modern data center architectures. These designs are used in a variety of fields including artificial intelligence, machine learning, edge and smart city, oil and gas, HPC, VDI, application delivery, research and education. , financial services, modeling and rendering, CAD, games.

Given the design of the data center and its integration with modern systems, air conditioning in a traditional computer room is no longer sufficient. Additionally, rising energy costs and supporting advanced use cases can become quite expensive. Liquids are more heat conductors, which means that even at room temperature, liquid can provide better cooling than cold air.

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