A lot is riding on the design of your data center’s IT cooling solution. Not only does it help prevent downtime and damage in your data center caused by inadequate heat removal, its ability to operate smoothly and with energy efficiency can save a significant amount of operating costs. As you evaluate your options, there are three considerations you shouldn’t overlook to make the best choice for your data center and your business:
The fundamental job of an IT cooling solution is to take heat away from central processing units (CPUs), graphics processing units (GPUs), or any other components that generate heat. Cooling with air has been a common method — basically, forcing cool air across the heat-generating components and directing the resulting warmer air away. A popular configuration for cabinet racks is a “hot aisle/cold aisle” arrangement, in which the fronts of racks are lined up and face each other, and behind them in another aisle, the backs are lined up and face the backs of another row. By alternating hot and cold aisles and using doors at the end of aisles, you can direct cool air at the front of the racks and cabinets and the hot air away from equipment. This allows you to use air-cooling solutions more efficiently by preventing hot and cold air from mixing.
As data centers grow and become more dense (requiring more power per rack), cooling with air becomes more of a challenge. Air has poor heat conductivity and the amount of energy it takes to cool a large, dense data center with air is significant — and expensive. An alternative is heat exchangers that use cold water to remove heat, which are contained to prevent damage from leaks. Another option, especially for very large, very dense data centers is immersion cooling, which uses nonconductive liquids such as synthetic or blends of mineral oils to cool IT components.
Unless you are using immersion cooling or a contained solution, another factor to consider is air distribution. Whether you are forcing cold air into the data center with fans or blowers or are using a system that uses cold water to remove heat, make sure there are no obstructions between heat-producing components and the cooling solution. Also, make sure cool air reaches cabinets and racks and that hot air is efficiently directed away.
Pay attention to air resistance and physical objects that could prevent heat transfer. Remember the equipment in the data center not only should be placed for proximity to electrical service and accessibility by technicians, but also taking heat transfer considerations into account. Ensure the placement of cooling equipment, fans, ducts, and air returns will optimize your IT cooling solution.
Another factor to consider is location, both the data center’s location within your facility and your data center’s geographic location.
- Within the building, it’s important that the data center is not located near heat-producing sources, like other equipment, furnaces, or even unshaded windows. Heat sources that are unaccounted for will only mean more energy required to remove the heat they produce.
- Geographic location of the data center can impact the IT cooling solution’s type and design. For example, data centers located in the northern U.S. could benefit from “free cooling.” In climates with cool seasons or cool nights, it’s possible to save energy costs by using cool air from outside your building when possible.
In addition to these factors, it is important to choose an IT cooling solution from a trusted brand, like APC by Schneider Electric, a leading manufacturer of power management and protection solutions. By choosing the best method of heat removal, the best strategy for air distribution, the best location data center in your building, and the best type of IT cooling solution for your geographic location, you can help ensure you are deploying a solution that will save you the headaches of interruptions, downtime, and a skyrocketing energy bill.