Paving The Road To Liquid Cooling To Advance Data Center Operations


liquid cooling

Datacenter’s are evolving. Large artificial intelligence applications are becoming more commonplace. With this preparing a high-density IT infrastructure is a strategic requirement.  One way data centers have been preparing is through the advent of data center liquid cooling technologies.

Efficiency in managing a data center is still key to ensuring maximum uptime and reduced operational costs. Recognizing efficiency loopholes is a major call for action. However, efficiency is harder to manage the larger the IT infrastructure. The introduction of new technologies are necessary to keep ahead of the curve. Data Center administrators are recognizing the value of optimizing cooling systems as one way to keep pace with high density demands.

The Road to Liquid Cooling

liquid cooling through the years

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Efforts to optimize data center cooling take center stage in data center efficiency and uptime. As a system, data center managers must re-adjust cooling units and airflow systems. This has a direct effect on efficiency gains. One technology proving popular is liquid cooling. This technology evolved from a mere conversation starter to an actual case study. These studies are now a fundamental reference for proper liquid cooling practices.

  • The Mid-1990’s

Back in the ’90s, there was no standard method of rack arrangements in computer rooms. This era paved the birth of hot and cold aisle organizations. It was a deliberate attempt for data engineers to organize the server racks. Establishing these standard practices initiated efforts to optimize aisle containment solutions.

  • 2005

Server cabinets have become the staple mode of organizing IT hardware. A case report from Oracle and Intel checked on the effect of server cabinets in a data center. It experimented on server cabinets with vertical exhausts. The cabinet features an air path that achieved airflow separation. One crucial factor emerged related to cooling effectiveness. The significant reduction in cooling energy cost. Lower cost is a consequential effect of the new cabinet solution.

  • 2006

Datacenter airflow management has transitioned from focusing on effectiveness, to tackling efficiency to reduce energy costs. A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs experimented on measurable savings using a:

    • Cooling unit fan energy
    • Chiller plant energy at higher set points
    • Increased economizer hours
  • 2010

Prescriptions on economization are the emphasis stated by ASHRAE 90.1 or the Energy Standard for Buildings. Additional stipulations include variable fan flow and humidity management. These reference the new way of data center management.

From the 1990s to the mid-2000s, air cooling technologies were still the go-to option in data centers. For the longest time, raised floor systems have facilitated cold air movement to IT servers. Cooling the data center by cooling the air is still the standard solution up to this day.

The more significant issue to address is how air cooling can keep pace with next-generation IT infrastructure? Can an air-conditioned unit sustain hardware reliability? Can it maintain the correct temperature conditions for computer rooms? Air cooling is starting to reach it’s limitation and new technologies needed to be explored.

The Advent of Liquid Cooling

The need to remove heat from data centers is an ongoing issue to be addressed. Avoiding overheating is equivalent to preventing damage and downtime to the server.

Air cooling, in all its benefits, has its downside. Beyond particle contamination, gas contamination is also a rising concern. Certain corrosive gases are detrimental in electric units, shortening the lifespan of the equipment.

These occurrences put light on the value of liquid cooling. As a direct alternative to traditional air cooling, liquid cooling systems have many attributes to their accord:

  • Higher Efficiency Levels
  • Capabilities Around Scale
  • Server Workload Delivery Optimization

Liquid Cooling Use Cases

liquid cooling use case

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The road to liquid cooling is often shadowed by misunderstanding. Previously, liquid cooling was viewed as a complex integration of parts that needed careful planning. While it’s true that proper planning is a must, liquid cooling can mold its function to data center architecture. And because its functionality is more custom-made and result-specific, many data center use cases can take advantage of the opportunity.

  • Artificial Intelligence

Every consumable electronics now is more innovative. Intelligent technological solutions can yield better process output. In cases of AI and machine learning, a high-density IT ecosystem is vital. To support the smart solution, detailed IT designs are evident.

Liquid cooling supports the high-density setting in this manner. It is equipped to remove heat from a big cluster of IT hardware. It is capable of cooling support to more enormous densities compared to traditional cooling options.

  • Smart City

Allowing an integrated flow of technological capability in a community is the Internet of Everything (IOE). This connectedness enables various smart processes that are just an imagination back then. But behind this interconnectedness is a web of interlinked IT architecture that prompts the steady flow of action steps for these technologies to work.

Integrated liquid cooling can best answer the web of interlinked IT in this context. With a better cooling procedure, service levels are maintained. Tech reliability will not be an occurring concern.

  • Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas are valuable commodities that are moving pieces to advance economic powers. Such is the demand for them that specific data centers support its trade and commerce. Added to that, the process involved in harnessing the resources requires an advanced technological backend.

Because these commodities are found in remote locations, remote data centers are the best form of support. In this context, hefty investments are needed for cooling systems. Because of longer ranges, data relay may be interrupted. Often due to natural sources. This includes heat, for one. New liquid cooling platforms are flexible enough to cater to the most remote computer setup. They are allowing for continued uptime without compromising commodity trade.

  • Financial Services

Instant money transfers are the competitive edge for most financial institutions now. This requires microseconds in the data relay. As such, anything longer than that will cause income loss. Financial service delivery stands from solid data analytics and computing. These systems enable computing demand at a fraction of a second.

Critical infrastructure for banks is a competitive market for them. Such data infrastructure must be secured, maintained, and running. Liquid cooling platforms are fast becoming an essential integrative part of planning financial institutions’ data centers.

  • Gaming

Entertainment and e-sports are growing industries. From a small, niche following to raking billions in enterprise income, this industry continues to grow and expand. These expansions are necessary to build a deliberate technology support solution. Not to mention it is of high density. Integrating a liquid cooling solution is typically a design variable to meet this growing industry’s needs and demand.

  • Education and Research

New educational platforms are the mode of instruction in the age of new normal. This requires more considerable educational investments in data-sharing applications and cloud-based video conferencing services. 

Such technological advancement is the same staple in research. The increasing venture for a new body of knowledge requires journal databases, research processes, and analytics. The computing infrastructure to support this industry should thrive and adapt to the growing need for learning. Despite the given complexity of high-performance computers, a liquid cooling solution should be integrated to lessen the burden of maintaining these IT. A lesser complexity to support the IT infrastructure can harness end-users educational and research capacity. 

Monitoring Your Data Center

Because of the high-performance demand for these technologies, they will incur a lot of wear and tear. Despite efforts to maintain a conducive condition for the hardware to run well, specific procedures are necessary to streamline any data center.

Datacenter monitoring is one of the ways to protect, sustain and maintain a data center. An IT cabinet interior is prone to heat from the IT equipment. Servers running round the clock are also heat generating.

Checking the effects of liquid cooling goes back to the primary checkpoint: environmental monitoring. As such, all parameters related to maintaining a standard temperature range are critical monitoring gauges.

AKCP data center monitoring sensors provide a comprehensive monitoring solution for these parameters. AKCP sensor solutions function as:

  • Monitor power efficiency with live PUE readings.
  • Comply with ASHRAE standards for temperature in cabinets.
  • Access control and security for cabinets and doors.
  • Integration to third-party equipment.
  • DCIM software for user access. 
  • Prompt notification to alert from disaster before it happens.

As such, monitoring is not only contained at the cooling levels. AKCP sensors give necessary checks to attributing factors consequential to any risk in IT failure and downtime. 

power monitoring

Power Monitoring Sensor

Electrical issues can cause catastrophic harm to equipment. Circuit breakers can also trip due to power surges or an unbalanced power distribution unit (PDU), resulting in downtime
PDU with power meters collects data on a variety of power metrics to aid load balancing and capacity planning. Input metered PDU tracks power usage at the device level, whereas outlet metered PDU tracks power consumption for the entire rack or cabinets.
Humidity and Water

For data centers that use liquid cooling, water sensors are essential. Plumbing leaks and moisture from the air conditioning system might cause water damage. Sensors should be positioned beneath elevated floors as well as near pipe valves and connections because water pools are at the lowest point.

Locate Rope Water Sensor

Locate Rope Water Sensor

Even if the temperature is kept constant, humidity levels can be too high or low. Equipment can rust in high humidity, whereas static electricity can build up in low humidity. Both inside and outside of racks and cabinets, humidity sensors should be installed.

Liquid Cooling Considerations

It is a fact that blowing cold air to IT infrastructure is a viable cooling method. Air cooling still has its advantages. But the compact nature of data centers and computer technologies have changed the way we view cooling solutions.

These new upgrades require purposeful cooling methods. Integrating new computing systems would require more than an air fan. Advanced technological components will need advanced cooling solutions, too.

In the end, the liquid is the most conducive to heat. Such is the fundamental premise that catapults the significance of liquid cooling in a data center. Liquid cooling is still more effective than air. With the advanced use cases currently, the demand to remove heat at greater capacity is of the essence. Liquid cooling is by far the most logical solution to address them.

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AKCPPaving The Road To Liquid Cooling To Advance Data Center Operations