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Cold Aisle Containment and Energy Efficiency of the Data Center
Keywords: data centers, cold aisle containment, energy efficiency
The data centers over the years have experienced sharply rising power trends. According to EPA report to Congress, the electricity consumed by the data centers in US is approximately 1.5% of the total electricity consumed by the nation. According to industry experts, it is rapidly approaching the 2% mark. The cooling resources typically consume about 30-35% of the total electricity consumption by a data center. Hence there is strong effort to manage the cooling resources efficiently and cut-down the energy wastage. Currently, numerous techniques and methods are being tested and practiced by the industry to achieve the energy savings. Cold Aisle containment is one such technique that is being studied widely. In a typical raised floor data center with hot aisle-cold aisle configuration, the recirculation of hot exhaust air leads to infiltration and ambient mixing in cold aisle resulting into higher inlet temperatures. Also commonly observed phenomenon within the flow field is the cold air bypassing the servers and returning to the CRACs without doing any useful work. The cold aisle containment is a promising solution to eliminate both the recirculation of hot air and the bypass of cold air. When properly installed, this practice can reduce the chiller load considerably and may even allow some CRAC units to be turned off. Although efficient and promising, the installation of containment brings the issue of fire detection and suppression on the forefront. This paper discusses the numerical and experimental study of a representative data center employing the cold aisle containment. A numerical model of the data center is generated and various configurations with and without cold aisle containment are simulated. Some of the cases are then experimentally validated and the results are presented.
Ali Heydari, Senior Mechanical/Thermal Scientist
Facebook Inc.
Palo Alto, CA

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