With increasing chip TDPs, a desire to support artificial intelligence (AI) and intensive research workloads through high-performance computing (HPC), and the need to increase efficiencies while decreasing TCO, it’s no wonder Data Centers are considering new options to cool their facilities. Though not a new concept, direct liquid cooling (DLC) has quickly gained popularity to become a widely accepted cooling method for HPC systems and a seriously considered solution for any enterprise data center focusing on efficiencies and reducing OPEX. All major Server OEM’s now offer liquid-cooled server SKUs and are contributing to the rapid adoption of the technology.
Understanding the benefits of DLC is key to know if it aligns with your data center strategy. Here is a list of the top benefits Direct Liquid Cooling has to offer your data center and its long-term computing roadmap.
- Density – Increase computing power per sq ft. That’s the battle all data centers are facing when planning a new deployment. As air-cooled data center racks max out between 20-30kw, Direct Liquid Cooling can push the limits beyond 100kw per rack, allowing new data center deployments to create more powerful systems in a fraction of the space as their previous systems.
- Energy efficiency and lower TCO – Air cooling and conditioning require a substantial amount of electricity to operate while Direct Liquid Cooling can use warm water to provide adequate cooling for servers. Lower energy bills combined with low maintenance and high reliability lead to lower ongoing facility costs. Most Direct Liquid Cooling systems have an ROI of 1 year or less and provide significant savings over time when compared to previous air-cooling systems.
- Performance – Very consistent and precise cooling is required to match the needs of the latest Intel, AMD and Nvidia chips operating at their highest performance. With air cooling, hot spots and thermal shutdown are common when running these systems at full throttle, while Direct Liquid Cooling keeps things running smoothly.
- Serviceability – Compared to air cooling system maintenance, Direct Liquid Cooling is just as simple. Server-level components such as CPU and DIMMs are easily accessible and quick to access. Similar to the blind-mate power connections that allow a data center operator to simply slide the server into the chassis without making additional connections, blind-mate liquid connectors are also available.
- Decreased sound – The sound of a Direct Liquid Cooled data center is amazing. You can hear colleagues and work inside of the data center for longer periods of time without experiencing the shrill scream of thousands of server fans running at max performance.
- Heat re-use – Facilities with a focus on energy efficiency can further their gains with a heat re-use plan. The outgoing heated liquid from servers can be directed to the building's heating system and further reduce building OPEX for utilities.
- Use existing infrastructure – Unlike Immersion technology which requires custom horizontal tanks to house data center racks coupled with proprietary fluids, Direct Liquid Cooling works with existing data center racks and infrastructure. In facilities that have existing In-row or Rear Door Heat exchangers connected to facility water, Direct Liquid Cooling can be connected to the same plumbing network.
- Communication – Direct Liquid Cooling integrates with existing BMS networks through Modbus, SNMP or Web interface. Data Center operators can have as little or as much control over the cooling system as they want as Direct Liquid Cooling can operate autonomously when paired with an intelligent Coolant Distribution Unit (CDU).
- Plays nice with air cooling – Some Data Centers simply don’t need a 100% liquid-cooled data center and want to utilize some of their existing air-cooling infrastructures to keep CAPEX down while maximizing the potential rack density. Direct Liquid Cooling components are small enough that they do not impede the airflow path across servers and can work in parallel to capture 100% of the heat through this hybrid approach. This is especially attractive to data center operators who are exploring Direct Liquid Cooling for the first time and want to add more liquid cooling over time.
- Availability – All of the major Server OEMs including HPE, Dell EMC, Intel and Gigabyte offer Direct Liquid Cooled servers along with their factory warranty. Customers can feel at ease knowing they are supported by their partners and no longer exploring a fringe technology.
Planning Your Data Center Future
The right cooling solution will ensure your facility can lean into the future of computing instead of hesitating to embrace it. As chips increase in density and building costs increase, Data Centers need to become familiar with their options for more effective cooling that unlocks their potential.
To see if CoolIT Systems offers the right cooling solutions for your organization, reach out at coolitsystems.com to learn more.