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Analysis of Alternative Data Center Cooling Approaches
Keywords: datacenter, liquid, cooling
The average equipment rack in most of todays high-performance data centers is limited to 1-3 kW with a typical overall heat load density of less than 100 W/ft2. Near-future racks, however, will dissipate up to 15 kW; in 2-4 years, computer and communications rack heat loads are projected to balloon to 30 kW with heat load densities exceeding 500W/ft2. Handling these heat loads is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive using traditional rack and data center cooling approaches. Based on an analysis of a realistic data center expansion plan, the current paper compares capital and operating costs associated with three alternative cooling approaches: (1) a business-as-usual approach, (2) employment of cooling augmentation systems based on chilled water and refrigerant-based heat exchangers, and (3) deployment of water- and refrigerant-based device-level cooling for some of the heat load. This work will also point out the underlying implications of such power increase to the overall datacenter growth in energy use as well as floor space, whether using air cooling or alternative cooling technologies.
Herman Chu, Technical Leader
Cisco Systems, Inc.
San Jose, CA

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