The power trend for server systems continues to grow thereby making thermal management of data centers a very challenging task. Although various configurations exist, the raised floor plenum with Computer Room Air Conditioners (CRACs) providing cold air is a popular operating strategy. In prior work, numerous data center layouts employing raised floor plenum and the impact of design parameters such as plenum depth, ceiling height, cold isle location, tile openings and others on thermal performance of data center were presented. The air cooling of data center however, may not address the situation where more energy is expended in cooling infrastructure than the thermal load of data center. Revised power trend projections by ASHRAE TC 9.9 predict heat loads as high as 5000W per square feet of compute servers’ equipment footprint by year 2010. These trend charts also indicate that heat load per product footprint has doubled for storage servers during 2000–2004. For the same period, heat load per product footprint for compute servers has tripled. Amongst the systems that are currently available and being shipped, many racks exceed 20kW. Such high heat loads have raised concerns over air cooling limits of data centers similar to that of microprocessors. A hybrid cooling strategy that incorporates liquid cooling along with air cooling can be very efficient in such situations. The impact of such an operating strategy on thermal management of data center is discussed in this paper. A representative data center is modeled using commercially available CFD code. The change in rack temperature gradients, recirculation cells and CRAC demand due to use of hybrid cooling is presented in a detailed parametric study. It is shown that the hybrid cooling strategy improves the cooling of data center which may enable full population of rack and better management of system infrastructure.

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