Traditionally, when building a new data center, roughly 35 percent of capital expenditure would be spent on cooling equipment, which accounts for 50 percent of the ongoing running costs.
New, more powerful processors put higher demands on traditional cooling technology and legacy equipment won’t cut it in a world of increasing heat loads with CPUs in excess of 200W and GPUs of 300W. Add to this the fact that new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) are driving demand for more and larger data centers, along with substantial investment at the Edge of Network, it’s clear that cost effective and efficient cooling technology is needed.
Most agree that liquid cooling is the answer but until now it has been regarded as a niche technology, with many compromises, that can’t meet the demands of a modern data center.
Technologies now exist that answer the historical concerns around liquid cooling and are ready to redefine the data center cooling landscape.
Concern 1: Expense
With total immersion cooling technology, expenses such as chillers, computer room air handling (CRAH) equipment, raised floors or ducting are no longer necessary. It can lower data center costs in other ways, including:
- Double-digit capex savings - liquid cooling technology can require next-to-no additional infrastructure leading to significant capex reductions for data centers.
- Significant floor space reduction - using anywhere between 50 - 75 percent less floor space, savings for customers are substantial. This leads this need to defer or obviate major capex in extending or building new data center space.
- Full integration - some liquid cooling technology can retrofit their servers into any existing rack meaning you can get immediate opex benefits without having to redesign your entire data center, alter your supply chain or retrain your staff.
- Consumes less energy – without the need for power-hungry computer room air handling equipment and zero fans inside the servers, liquid cooling technology can reduce energy bills by up to 80 percent.
Concern 2: Complexity
There is a clear need to ensure your risk is managed but when you consider the exponential growth in big data andcloud computing, data centers need to adapt in order to deliver great customer service and profitability.
Traditional data center cooling equipment cannot cope with ever-increasing heat loads that new processors and apps demand. Sticking with the legacy approaches will only lead to larger footprints and increasing cost and complexity, with no competitive benefit.
Liquid cooling is essential in preventing this trend from continuing. It allows systems to be deployed with greater densities, faster speeds and more flexibility. Immersion cooling alone saves up to 75 percent of the floor space, simplifying data center infrastructure.
Concern 3: Proprietary technology
Liquid cooling no longer needs to sacrifice flexibility in return for greater efficiency
- Simplified infrastructure for any data center - removing infrastructure such as chillers; raised floors or ducting; and smaller UPS and PDUs. Not only does this allow you to fit more IT within the same space, but you can integrate within existing infrastructure if required.
- Accommodates any brand of IT - as liquid cooling technology has proven its potential, IT vendors are open to hardware being immersed in specially engineered coolants, without voiding warranty.
Concern 4: Save valuable resource, don’t waste it
Both energy and water are in huge demand by the world’s expanding and developing population.
Around 2.8 billion people live in areas with high water scarcity and 2.5 billion have no or unreliable access to electricity. So when we consider that in 2040 there will be a 50 percent increase in electricity consumption and around 40 billion connected devices, our digital future must conserve our water and energy supply.
Traditional data center infrastructure such as evaporative methods and cooling towers are recognized as a huge contributor to water consumption. Around 800 data centers in California consume enough water to fill 158,000 Olympic swimming pools per annum!
So it’s important that immersion liquid cooling technology uses clean, safe, dependable, engineered coolant to cool down electronics – not water resources.
Concern 5: Safety
Conventional wisdom states that liquid and electronics do not mix well - this has long been a barrier to widespread adoption of liquid cooling technology.
But liquid cooling technologies can use coolants that are completely safe to use around electronics.
As demonstrated throughout this article, there are legitimate concerns around liquid cooling, which new technologies and innovations are countering.
We have seen a confidence shift in liquid cooling technology from data centers and businesses who need flexible and scalable servers to keep up with increasing digital demand, cloud computing and big data.
Ultimately the future of IT, application development and, importantly, your competitive advantage will be forever changed by our technology.
Liquid cooling is the new mainstream, and it is the future of IT.
David Craig is CEO of Iceotope