Growth in the hyperscale and colocation spaces shows no signs of stopping, driven by organizations’ faster digitalization of their products and services, hybrid work models, and by the industrial internet of Things.
This is a period of unprecedented volatility requiring creativity and innovation to meet the moment. As we explore new approaches and solutions for the challenges facing the modern data center, everything must be re-evaluated – starting from the ground up.
For decades, data center server rooms have featured raised floors to facilitate the delivery of cool air to the servers. This approach requires labor for design and installation of those floors – all of which adds to the cost and duration of the data center build. Simplifying data center design with simple slab floors allows data center owners to construct new white space more quickly and cost-effectively, but it requires new thinking around data center design and cooling.
Air distribution in non-raised floor data centers requires careful attention on two fronts. First, designers and operators must ensure high-velocity air does not hit the first server rows. This creates negative pressure in front of the severs. Second, they must ensure sufficient airflow even to the servers placed farther away. Both reduce the risks of servers overheating or failing.
Multiple cooling solutions for non-raised floor environments are available and deliver on these priorities, but figuring out which solution is right for specific applications requires careful consideration of business goals and technical objectives. It’s important to be organized in your decision-making and consider all the variables before selecting a particular solution. The upfront design work required for non-raised floor applications should not be underestimated. With that in mind, we recommend the following steps to help determine the appropriate cooling solution for a non-raised floor deployment:
- Determine server heat density and airflow requirements: Calculate the total cooling capacity required for IT equipment, as well as airflow needed.
- Define the number of units based on the system redundancy: Consider the level of desired cooling redundancy and then determine the number of units to place inside the IT room.
- Evaluate computer room layout specifications: Define the cooling unit positioning in the room, evaluating server aisle positioning and considering IT room dimensions and height, service corridor space, and return air duct placement.
- Verify the airflow distribution considering different scenarios: Using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis, verify the airflow and temperature distribution for different load scenarios. At the same time, determine the impacts of cooling unit failures on networking and other equipment.
- Define the right product: After doing this analysis, you should have the right data in hand to select the right indoor chilled-water cooling unit for your application. However, you still should consider the pros and cons of each unit design before making a final decision.
There is no single solution to cool equipment placed on non-raised floors in data centers. As always, operators should choose the right product based on their specific data center needs rather than choosing a product and designing around it.