Increase in computing power resulting from high performance microprocessors, packages, and modules and the deployment of high heat load computer rack units in high density configurations, has escalated the thermal challenges in today’s data center systems. One of the key issues is the location of hot recirculation regions in the room and the mixing of hot rack exhaust air with the cold supply air. Along with many factors such as the rack heat load and the cooling capacity of the supply air, the data center thermal management architecture plays an important role in determining the reliability of the electronic equipment and the general thermal performance of the data center. There are several candidate configurations available for the air ducting designs for data centers. The overall energy efficiency of the system is highly dependant upon the selection of the specific configuration. This paper will summarize the results of a broad numerical study carried out to assess the effectiveness of different data center configurations. The numerical modeling is performed using a commercial computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code based on finite volume approach. The configurations studied include different combinations of raised floor and ceiling supply and return vent location subject to specific constraints. The performance of the data center has been characterized on the basis of average and maximum mean region rack inlet air temperature. Among the seven different configurations compared, the raised floor/ceiling return type configuration is found to be the most effective configuration for the given set of constraints and assumptions.

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