Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Liquid cooling offers efficient alternative to heat sinks
Tech experts have continued to develop new strategies to improve the efficiency of fan cooling for massive data infrastructures. The orientation of stacks to create cold and hot aisles, for example, is a widely used strategy for overcoming the limitations of air flow cooling. Liquid cooling mediums, however, may provide better cooling solutions as data centers continue to grow in size.
Efficiency benefits attract adopters
The main benefit of liquid cooling is the great efficiency at which this medium dissipates and transfers heat. Liquid cooling is so effective that IT World notes the possibility that data centers can cut their cooling costs by 50 percent by upgrading their traditional heat stacks. Coolants are able to disperse heat in very close proximity to servers generating excess heat and hold an edge over indirect airflow cooling.
Liquid cooling also cuts costs by solving some of the infrastructure problems inherent to using fans. Noise is a chief problem related to traditional data center infrastructure, as noise pollution caused by elaborate fan systems puts limits on where data centers can be built. Likewise, fan systems produce steady vibrations that can compromise server performance. Liquid cooling methods eliminate both of these infrastructure issues by using chilled coolants to transfer heat.
Liquid cooling market shows promise
Market research has pointed toward the continued popularity of liquid cooling methods. A recent report on data cooling trends expects this alternative infrastructure to be a $2.3 billion business by the end of 2014. Likewise, market analysts from The 451 Group expect liquid cooling to make huge inroads as the industry's go-to temperature control method.
There are some obvious caveats to liquid cooling's growing popularity. IT World points out that rack densities at data centers must exceed the 15 kilowatt range before liquid infrastructures become an ideal cooling solution. Some data center projects will face the challenge of providing IT teams with access to their new liquid-cooled servers and will likely turn to remote console servers to expand the conveniences of highly efficient temperature control system across their entire network.
GCN reports that despite these barriers for adoption a niche for liquid cooling has already emerged. Several government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy, have adopted liquid cooling to manage supercomputers. These agencies have also cut costs by using the energy dissipated from server stacks to heat the entire building.
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