And what does this mean for a data center’s cooling solutions?
There is much more talk of high-density racks with respect to datacenters because the demand on the latter is beginning to increase significantly in today’s computing landscape. Of course, as these demands increase, high-density racks are seen as a solution. And, if current trends continue, data-center decision makers will need to think long and hard about whether their current performance and efficiency capacities are enough. First, let us take a very brief look at what a high-density rack is as compared to its lower-density alternatives. One definition of high-density is a datacenter that uses more than 10 kW per cabinet.
Source: Uptime Institute
Another is the use of anything more than 150 W a square foot. Obviously, anything lower can be considered low density. And, as the name suggests, high-density racks and datacenters allow for a greater amount of computing power in a smaller amount of space.
The demands of the market
So, why would any data center consider going high-density given that it is a more expensive alternative, at least in the short term? The simple answer is that more datacenter clients will require this kind of capacity. And if your datacenter does not provide it, someone else’s will. This demand for more efficient power output from data centers is coming from various fronts. Financially, and as Linn Gowen of 1623 Farnam points out, it is not hard to imagine that high-frequency trading (HFT) will demand 20 kW to 40 kW per rack. Research by science and government will require advanced modeling and data analysis that requires an enormous amount of computing power. And these are just a beginning in a world hurling towards faster and more efficient data processing. As a testament to this growing need for high-density racks in data centers, research indicates, from 2019 to 2020, average rack density jumped from 7.3 kW to 8.2 kW. Also in 2020, data centers reported an average density of at least 10 kW, and that average is expected to increase to 15 kW or 20 kW by 2025. These are the kinds of increases that the data-center industry needs to keep a close eye on.
Source : Uptime Institute
All this power needs cooling
Of course, once anyone starts talking about high-density racks, the next question needs to be: Well, how exactly do you cool them? The more powerful and efficient a server is, the harder it is to cool, right? Although there are various solutions out there, one is gaining in prominence: immersion cooling, or any technology that places servers in liquid. According to Gowen, current conventional cooling methods only handle about 4 kW a rack. Advanced air-cooling systems start losing efficiency at 10 kW to 15 kW. As I have already indicated, this represents the lower end of the threshold needed to sustain the higher workloads of today and the future. And, as Gowen points out when water is 24 times more efficient at cooling than air is, and can hold 3200 times more heat, it seems clear that, if the future is high density, then its cooling counterpart may be in liquid form.
At Hypertec, we have focused on immersion cooling as a method to quickly cool IT hardware by directly immersing it in a non-conducive liquid. The heat that is generated from the components used is then directly and efficiently transferred to the liquid. It offers the highest level of efficiency plus unlimited capacity. We use the single-phase Immersion Cooling technique. Both single and two-phase offer ease of location for data centers and do not depend on traditional infrastructure. If you are interested in learning more about our datacenter cooling solutions, look here.
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