Liquid Cooling Industry Update – Dell EMC Release New Study Results

Organizations have been looking at new cooling solutions to help shape the efficiency of their data centers.

Bill Kleyman

November 15, 2017

4 Min Read


Sponsored by: Dell EMC and Intel

Discussions around data center cooling and power consumption have been heating up (pun intended). In fact, organizations are looking for ways to increase efficiency while supporting new levels of data center convergence, new use-cases, and new types of compute systems for managing applications. With growth in cloud comes new requirements around rack and even server density, placing even more requirements around advanced cooling and data center management systems. A 2015 NRDC report indicates that data center electricity consumption is projected to increase to roughly 140 billion kilowatt-hours annually by 2020. This is the equivalent annual output of 50 power plants, costing U.S. businesses $13 billion annually in electricity bills.

This is why organizations have been looking at new cooling solutions to help shape the efficiency of their data centers. According to Stratistics MRC, the Global Data Center Liquid Cooling market is estimated to grow between $0.64 billion in 2015 to $3.56 billion by 2022, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.7%. Rising need for eco-friendly solutions and increasing density of server rack are the key drivers fueling the market growth.

Rising requirements around data center cooling

Gartner estimates that ongoing power costs are increasing at least 10% per year due to cost per kilowatt-hour (kwh) increases and underlying demand, especially for high power density servers. Approximately 10% of data center operating expenditure (opex) is power, and power is likely to be about 15% of data center opex within five years.

Dell EMC’s study absolutely showed that these industry findings are quite accurate. When asked how much does the cost of cooling their data center impacts their overall operating costs, 50% responded that it had a significant impact. Some 78% responded that there was at least some level of impact on their costs.

So what are organizations doing to better control their cooling systems?

·       55% responded that they work with air containment (hot/cold aisles)

·       45% adjust data center temperatures upwards (within ASHRAE standards)

·       44% leverage virtualization/equipment consolidation

Liquid cooling is offering new ways to cool advanced systems

We’re at a point where organizations are leveraging liquid cooling technologies for a variety of use-cases. In fact, the survey showed us that 25% are already using liquid cooling in production environments and 32% are using liquid cooling in some fashion within their data center. Remember, organizations are working with greater levels of density and a lot more data. All of this is requiring a new way to cool critical systems while still keeping levels of efficiency high.

Take, for example, high-performance computing (HPC). With data volumes exploding and workloads becoming increasingly complex, the need for a breakthrough in HPC performance is clear. In leveraging Dell EMC data center technologies, the latest Intel Xeon Scalable processors, with integrated Intel Omni-Path Architecture and Intel AVX-512, bring significant performance leaps to the high-performance computing (HPC) community. By offering more cores, memory channels, and PCI express lanes, the latest Intel Xeon Scalable processors will enable the HPC community to solve the problems of the future. But here’s the challenge: you have to keep this entire HPC ecosystem running optimally. A great way to do this is through liquid cooling. It’s no wonder that 20% of respondents already use some form of liquid cooling for their HPC platform.

As the survey points out, there are a lot of great ways to use liquid cooling within the data center.

·       39% have liquid cooling technologies within high-density cabinets or racks

·       20% deploy liquid cooling for high-performance computing (HPC) use-cases

·       17% use it for big data processing

·       15% already have full-package systems where the majority of the heat is removed through liquid

Looking back just a few years and we see that liquid cooling technologies were on the fringe of deployment. Today, these types of systems are becoming a reality.

Still, there are concerns when deploying these types of systems. In fact, 58% of respondents stated that the cost of retrofitting was their biggest deterrent. However, the same group said that when building a new facility, 67% said that they were likely to leverage liquid cooling in their new data center. Another 57% said that they’d include liquid cooling during major equipment refreshes and renovation cycles.

This shows that although retrofitting might not make sense, when building new data center or doing large renovation projects, liquid cooling is a major consideration.

Looking ahead

Liquid cooling solutions are helping organizations design around high-performance computing requirements, work with new types of big data systems, and even create greater levels of optimization. Moving forward, it’s important to work with various cooling system which help meet your data center requirements. Already, organizations are finding ways to incorporate liquid cooling into emerging designs. In fact, 63% of respondents said that they will be prepared to actively consider a move to liquid cooling within the next 5 years. 

Creating optimizations around new types of workloads will be a major initiative for both IT and business leaders. As liquid cooling continues its pace of adoption, organizations are going to leverage this technology for more business-oriented use-cases. That said, if you’re working with HPC or big data projects, it might be time to look at liquid cooling as a real option to keep your critical business systems running optimally.

About the Author(s)

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise technology. He also enjoys writing, blogging, and educating colleagues about tech. His published and referenced work can be found on Data Center Knowledge, AFCOM, ITPro Today, InformationWeek, NetworkComputing, TechTarget, DarkReading, Forbes, CBS Interactive, Slashdot, and more.

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