The Partially Decoupled Aisle (PDA) method facilitates a near-real-time cooling-performance analysis of a single cluster of racks and, potentially, coolers, bounding a common hot or cold aisle in a data center. With the PDA method, the airflow patterns and related variables need be computed only within an isolated cold or hot aisle “on the fly” through CFD analysis or other means. The analysis is fast because the much larger surrounding room environment is not directly modeled; its effect enters the model through the boundary conditions applied to the top and ends of the isolated aisle. The proper boundary conditions in turn may be estimated from an empirical model determined in advance (“offline”) from the study of a large number of CFD simulations of varying equipment layouts and room environments. A software tool based on the PDA method, which uses a full CFD engine to solve the aisle airflow within the isolated aisle, can analyze a typical cluster of racks and coolers in 10–30 seconds and requires no special user skills. This paper formally introduces the general PDA method and shows several examples of its application with comparisons to corresponding whole-room CFD analyses.

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