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October 20, 2016updated 13 Jul 2022 5:05am

Stay cool – Strange ways and new tech to stay cool in the data centre

Cooling systems for data centre operators

By Hannah Williams

One of the many struggles identified amongst data centre operators and its management is maintaining the right temperature. There are various modern methods that can be implemented to not only benefit data centre cooling strategies, but also cut the costs of energy bills.

CBR has put together a list of a few of the strange methods and newest technologies to help you stay cool in the data centre.

Liquid to server cooling

A system which has been used for years, liquid to server cooling brings the cooling fluid (water) closer to the servers that need cooling.

With the recent release of high watt processors, such as NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPU and many others, liquid cooling is something which has become increasingly efficient and easily accessible for data centres.

The system follows one of two approaches: Direct Liquid Cooling (DLC) or Total Liquid Cooling (TLC).

The Direct liquid cooling approach involves placing a small, fully sealed heat sink on top of the server board or chip that needs cooling.

The Total liquid cooling approach does not include any air-cooled components, but instead the server is completely immersed in a dielectric fluid or mineral oil solution that absorbs heat.

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Free Cooling

Free cooling is a method which uses low external air temperatures to assist in chilling water, mainly used for air conditioning in green data centres.

There are three types of free cooling available for data centre use. The first is air-side free cooling, whereby air from outside is inserted into the data centre directly through filters or indirectly through heat exchangers.

Secondly is adiabatic, which is combined with air-side free cooling. This method sees the air transferred to a chamber along with water evaporation to cool the air.

Lastly, Water-side free cooling is a cooling medium which circulates water directly though cooling towers rather than chillers or compressors.

Close-Coupled Cooling

Close-Coupled cooling is a relatively new approach in the data centre lexicon, with many manufacturers and data centre operators applying it into their data centres.

The aim is to bring heat transfer closest to its source, the equipment rack. This moves the air conditioner closer to the equipment rack, and ensures a more precise delivery of air and a more immediate capture of exhaust air.

The two categories that are mainly used are open-loop configuration, which while bringing heat transfer to the equipment rack is not completely independent of the room installation.

Closed-loop configuration addresses the compute load independent of the room in which it’s installed, which enables the rack and heat exchanger work exclusively with one another, creating a microclimate within the enclosure.

In-rack and in-row cooling

This system can be identified as more efficient than the standard CRAC systems, as the IRCs tie into the IT equipment rather than sending cooled air into empty space.

Due to the lower volumes of chilled air circulated, smaller fans are required, which minimises the energy costs.

As the majority of the In-rack and In-row cooling systems are modular, it is easier and more cost effective for resilience.

Emerson Network Power recently launched its new rack cooling system

Chiller

Data centre chiller is a cooling system used to remove heat from one element and deposit it into another element.

Chillers are used by industrial facilities to cool the water used in heating, ventilation and air conditioning units (HVAC).

One of the cons with chillers, is that they consume a lot of electricity and require dedicated power supplies and significant portions of annual energy budgets.

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