To achieve reductions in the power consumption of the data center cooling infrastructure, the current strategy in data center design is to increase the inlet temperature to the rack, while the current strategy for energy-efficient system thermal design is to allow increased temperature rise across the rack. Either strategy, or a combination of both, intuitively provides enhancements in the coefficient of performance of the data center in terms of computing energy usage relative to cooling energy consumption. However, this strategy is currently more of an empirically based approach from practical experience, rather than a result of a good understanding of how the impact of varying temperatures and flow rates at rack level influences each component in the chain from the chip level to the cooling tower. The aim of this paper is to provide a model to represent the physics of this strategy by developing a modeling tool that represents the heat flow from the rack level to the cooling tower for an air cooled data center with chillers. This model presents the performance of a complete data center cooling system infrastructure. After detailing the model, two parametric studies are presented that illustrate the influence of increasing rack inlet air temperature, and temperature rise across the rack, on different components in the data center cooling architecture. By considering the total data center, and each component’s influence on the greater infrastructure, it is possible to identify the components that contribute most to the resulting inefficiencies in the heat flow from chip to cooling tower and thereby identify the components in need of possible redesign. For the data center model considered here it is shown that the strategy of increasing temperature rise across the rack may be a better strategy than increasing inlet temperature to the rack.

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