Increased Information and Communications Technology (ICT) capability and improved energy-efficiency of today’s server platforms have created opportunities for the data center operator. However, these platforms also test the ability of many data center cooling systems. New design considerations are necessary to effectively cool high-density data centers. Challenges exist in both capital costs and operational costs in the thermal management of ICT equipment. This paper details how air cooling can be used to address both challenges to provide a low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and a highly energy-efficient design at high heat densities. We consider trends in heat generation from servers and how the resulting densities can be effectively cooled. A number of key factors are reviewed and appropriate design considerations developed to air cool 2000 W/ft2 (21,500 W/m2). Although there are requirements for greater engineering, such data centers can be built with current technology, hardware, and best practices. The density limitations are shown primarily from an airflow management and cooling system controls perspective. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling is discussed as a key part of the analysis allowing high-density designs to be successfully implemented. Well-engineered airflow management systems and control systems designed to minimize airflow by preventing mixing of cold and hot airflows allow high heat densities. Energy efficiency is gained by treating the whole equipment room as part of the airflow management strategy, making use of the extended environmental ranges now recommended and implementing air-side air economizers.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.