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Cooling

Data Center Densities Are Increasing — Is Your Cooling System Up to the Job?

According to a recent survey by AFCOM, the power density of the average data center rack is 7.3kW. Well over a third (37 percent) of data center operators report that their target rack power density is 7kW to 10kW, while 19 percent say it’s more than 10kW. Two-thirds (67 percent) of survey respondents say rack power density is increasing.

High-density data center architectures allow organizations to pack a lot of compute power in a small footprint. This saves on real estate costs and enables economies of scale in terms of management. As data center densities increase, however, so does the heat load in the facility. Organizations need the right cooling system design to maintain the proper operating temperature while keeping a lid on costs.

Ultimately, experts expect liquid cooling to become the norm in high-density data centers. However, liquid cooling is primarily used when power density exceeds 25kW per rack. Meanwhile, operators need to optimize airflow and heat management to get the greatest cooling efficiency from their air cooling systems.

Today, most modern facilities use aisle containment to minimize the mixing of hot and cold air. Cold-aisle containment puts a “box” around the intake side of the equipment, reducing the amount of space to be cooled and focusing chilled air on the equipment. Hot-aisle containment encloses the hot exhaust air exiting equipment to create a more comfortable operating environment. Either way, aisle containment makes it possible to set computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units to a higher temperature.

A better approach is to bring the cooling unit right into the row of racks. In-row cooling is more efficient than aisle containment with a traditional CRAC unit because the chilled air doesn’t have as far to travel. When an in-row cooling unit is installed within a cold-aisle containment enclosure, virtually all of the chilled air reaches the equipment to dissipate heat faster.

Some in-row cooling units use fans to distribute the chilled air throughout the enclosure, while state-of-the-art systems have intelligent controllers that can vary the cooling capacity and fan speeds based upon the heat load. These units are ideal for high-density environments, as well as for systems that have clusters of power-hungry graphics processing units (GPUs) for artificial intelligence and other high-performance computing applications.

Enconnex has developed a line of in-row cooling units with the capacity to support ever-increasing heat loads. Each unit is 45U high and 1200mm deep, with either 600mm or 900mm widths, and can deliver more than 100kW of cooling capacity. They are available in condensate water, chilled water and DX air- and water-cooled configurations, and feature a wall of variable-speed, hot-swappable fans and dual power supplies. They are easy to install and service, have an intuitive, touch-screen interface, and are certified for use in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

If power densities are increasing in your data center, it may be time to consider new cooling solutions. The experts at Enconnex can help you evaluate in-row cooling and select the right unit to meet your requirements.