As heat dissipation in data centers rises by orders of magnitude, inefficiencies such as recirculation will have an increasingly significant impact on the thermal manageability and energy efficiency of the cooling infrastructure. For example, prior work has shown that for simple data centers with a single Computer Room Air-Conditioning (CRAC) unit, an operating strategy that fails to account for inefficiencies in the air space can result in suboptimal performance. To enable system-wide optimality, an exergy-based approach to CRAC control has previously been proposed. However, application of such a strategy in a real data center environment is limited by the assumptions inherent to the single-CRAC derivation. This paper addresses these assumptions by modifying the exergy-based approach to account for the additional interactions encountered in a multi-component environment. It is shown that the modified formulation provides the framework necessary to evaluate performance of multi-component data center thermal management systems under widely different operating circumstances.

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