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Data Center Liquid Cooling – Is It Time for an Upgrade?

Featured image of a Liquid Cooling Data Center using immersion cooling

As the demand for cloud services, big data analytics and AI computations grows, data centers are housing increasingly dense and powerful computing equipment. This trend has led to higher heat loads, making efficient cooling not only desirable but necessary. In some situations, traditional air-cooled systems, once the backbone of data center cooling, are now being supplemented and even replaced by data center liquid cooling solutions.

In this article, we explore how far our cooling innovations have come and uncover the reality of today’s liquid cooling landscape. We’ll break down the tech news outlet hype around liquid-cooled data centers – what are the options? What makes it special? Is it suitable for every data center? And is this technological shift inevitable? Let’s dive in.

A Liquid Cooling Data Center using immersion cooling technology

Immersion Cooling Technology for Data Centers

Why is Liquid Cooling Superior?

Liquid cooling is superior in data centers due to its higher thermal conductivity – liquids conduct heat up to 1,000 times better than air – allowing it to efficiently remove heat directly from high-power computing components. 

This direct heat removal leads to significantly lower operational temperatures, enhancing the performance and longevity of sensitive electronic equipment. Additionally, liquid cooling systems are more energy-efficient than traditional air cooling, reducing operational costs and a creating a smaller carbon footprint.

Energy Savings

Another core benefit that liquid-cooled data centers enjoy is energy savings. In quantitative research conducted by NVIDIA and Vertiv, data centers that use liquid cooling systems reduced their total data center power consumption by 10.2% – an 18.1% reduction in facility power! From a financial perspective, this reduction is $740,000 less than from power-hungry data centers that consume $7.4 million annually.

Types of Data Center Liquid Cooling Systems

There are many data center liquid cooling systems in place – some more complex than others. However, these three are the most dominant ones in use today:

Direct-to-Chip Liquid Cooling

Direct-to-chip (D2C) cooling involves circulating a coolant directly over the heat-generating components, such as CPUs and GPUs. This method significantly increases cooling efficiency by removing heat directly at the source. D2C systems can use a variety of coolants, including water, dielectric fluids, or refrigerants, depending on the application’s needs and the desired cooling capacity.

Immersion Cooling

Immersion cooling takes liquid cooling a step further by submerging the entire server, or parts of it, in a non-conductive liquid. This technique is highly efficient as it ensures even and thorough heat absorption from all components. Immersion cooling is particularly beneficial for high-performance computing (HPC) and can dramatically reduce the space and energy required for cooling.

Rear-Door Heat Exchangers

Rear-door heat exchanger units are a hybrid solution, combining air and liquid cooling. These units are attached to the back of server racks, using a liquid-cooled coil to remove heat from the air exiting the servers. This method is often used as an intermediary.

Direct-to-Chip Liquid Cooling solution for CPU in a Data Center

Close-up view of Direct-to-Chip Liquid Cooling

Data Center Liquid Cooling Cons

“If liquid cooling is so great, why haven’t we implemented it in every data center?” you may be asking yourself. The answer is simple: we haven’t perfected the technology. There are still a number of cons that make this solution more of an option for massive data centers who are willing and can afford to take the risk.

Higher Initial Setup Cost

Implementing liquid cooling in data centers requires a substantial initial investment. This includes the cost of the cooling system itself, such as pumps, pipes, and liquid handling units, and potential modifications to the existing infrastructure to accommodate these new components.

Complex Maintenance Requirements

Liquid cooling systems are day-and-night more complex to maintain than traditional air cooling systems. They require regular monitoring for leaks, proper handling of the cooling liquids, and maintenance of additional components like pumps and liquid distribution systems, necessitating specialized skills and training (more initial expense). Moreover, modern servers that use denser equipment and computers require crane-system assistance for immersion cooling setups, which can be a massive infrastructure endeavor for data centers considering making the shift. 

Risk of Leaks and Liquid Damage

There is an inherent risk of leaks in any liquid cooling system, which can significantly damage expensive data center equipment. Ensuring leak-proof systems and having emergency response plans are essential, but they add to the operational complexity and costs.

Should Your Data Center Opt for Liquid Cooling Solutions?

Probably not. With the current tech and innovation, upgrading to a full liquid-cooled data center can be incredibly expensive with many unknowns. Even apart from its complexity and cost, there are no currently established standards for data centers to follow. However, we’re not saying that it’s a bad idea. 

Liquid cooling data centers have their place in the tech world, but it’s mainly for data centers ready to shell out billions of dollars. The ones eager to be at the forefront of the industry and pave the way for better big data analytics, AI computations, and cloud services. 

For edge computing and businesses requiring a more straightforward, more reliable solution – Modular Data Centers and All-in-One Data Center Cabinets can provide the same benefit without the hefty price tag. 

Are Liquid-Cooled Data Centers the Future 

Based on the current forecast, it looks like it. 

The global data center liquid cooling market is projected to grow from USD 2.6 billion in 2023 to USD 7.8 billion by 2028

But is it for every data center operator? Not at the moment. 

In the future, as more and more innovations come up, standards are created, and OEMs create more liquid-cooled-stable equipment, liquid cooling will become a more dominant cooling technology due to its efficiency and eco-friendliness. In the meantime, there are other ways you can increase airflowcontact us to find out more!

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff – Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cable labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and rack space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online at https://andcable.com/shop/

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Hot and Cold Aisle Containment in Data Centers

Feature Hot and Cold Aisle Containment in Data Centers - AnD Cable Management Blog

Data centers are often made up of hot and cold aisles, and the design of the hot / cold aisle data center is far from new. However, the traditional setup causes warm air exhaust from one aisle to flow into the air intake of the next, meaning that the overall efficiency of the data center is impacted. And really, that’s what hot and cool aisle containment is all about.

Hot and Cold Aisle Containment in Data Centers - AnD Cable Management Blog
Balancing hot and cold aisles is more important than ever to running an efficient data center

As rack density increases, especially in edge data centers and hyperscale data centers, the need for efficiency increases. This is also impacted by the fact that there are more green data centers, who may be generating their own energy using solar or other renewable resources. 

How does containment work and how does it impact your data center?

Remote Monitoring and Temperature Control

Of course, before we get to containment itself, it’s a good reminder to revisit physical layer monitoring. To know how effective any containment effort is, it’s necessary to monitor temperatures. This is most often done with temperature indicating panels, three per rack at the top, middle, and bottom, so that intake temperatures can be monitored regularly.

Of course, someone entering the area to manually check temperatures is yet another disruption to airflow, so remote monitoring as a part of physical network security is essential. This allows managers not only to monitor these temperatures, but receive alerts and take action if something goes wrong. 

A150 Remote Physical Layer Network Security Monitoring Elements
The A150 Remote Physical Layer Remote Monitoring system tracks temperature among many other elements that reduce risk and increase efficiency in data centers

But the most important fact for this discussion is to know what temperatures are so that efficiency and the effectiveness of containment can be monitored.

What is Aisle Containment?

Aisle containment is essentially isolating aisles by relative temperature. Essentially it means placing doors at the end of each aisle, and then adding panels, or barriers, from the top of the cabinet upwards. 

The more airtight this containment is, the more efficient cooling can be, and the easier it is to manage airflow. It’s pretty simple, but there are a couple of different approaches, each with its own pros and cons.

Hot vs. Cold Aisle Containment

There are two ways to manage aisle containment: hot and cold aisle containment. And they work exactly the way they sound.

  • Hot Aisle Containment: Hot aisles are contained, leaving the rest of the room at a more comfortable cool aisle temperature. It’s also easier to manage in many cases.
  • Cold Aisle Containment: Cold aisles are isolated or contained, which means the rest of the room stays at the warmer hot aisle temperature. This can also make getting the right amount of airflow tricky due to pressure changes, but managed properly it can deliver the most uniform temperature air to servers.. 

Choosing the right type of aisle containment for your data center depends on your situation, but there are some differences between new data center construction and retrofitting an existing data center.

Retrofitting vs. New Data Center Construction

In the case of a new data center, most of the time hot aisle containment is the method of choice. This is easier to set up in a new data center, as that allows you to start with the type of containment you need, and to set up HVAC systems and sensors to accommodate that. 

This creates an easier environment for technicians to work in when necessary, and is overall a more efficient choice. However, things are different when it comes to existing data centers

Existing data centers are easier to retrofit with cool aisle containment. While there is some additional monitoring, the way cooling systems work simply means this process is simpler in a currently operating system without creating expensive downtime for making moves and changes and installing containment. 

That doesn’t mean that no new data center will be built with cool aisle containment. It simply means that hot aisle containment is a more frequent choice. 

Partial Containment Solutions

When it comes to retrofitting, sometimes full aisle containment in either format is not possible. In those cases, partial containment is a solution. How is this achieved?

Often plastic strips can be used, similar to those you would go through walking into an industrial freezer or even certain restaurant kitchens. These can be hung at the end of aisles and from the tops of servers to the ceiling, just like other containment methods.

While not as effective, partial containment can be easy to retrofit and implement, and in some cases is about 75% as effective as full containment. For existing data centers looking for a quick and inexpensive efficiency solution, partial containment is a viable option. 

But containment is just a part of rack cooling solutions, and there are some new and exciting ones. 


WHITEPAPER – Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs

Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs FREE Guide - AnD Cable Products

Smart optimization can help you increase rack space and realize significant equipment cost savings. Read our step-by-step guide that shows you how – and how much you could save.

  • How Much Rack Space You Could Save
  • How to Optimize for Maximum Efficiency
  • Savings for New and Retrofit Installations
  • Overall Cost and Space Savings Post-Optimization

The Addition of Liquid Cooling

Data center cooling has evolved from older, inefficient systems to more contemporary ones in a relatively short period of time. However, one thing that has been around for a while but is experiencing a boom in denser, modern data centers is liquid cooling. 

Why? Well, in most cases liquid cooling is more efficient than air cooling in data centers, and when the two are used in conjunction, generally the best results can be achieved. The larger data centers get, the more power they consume, the greater the push towards a blended approach to cooling that not only saves power and is better for the environment, but prolongs the life of equipment and saves space as well. 

But even with the addition of liquid cooling, it’s all about efficient use of rack space and the airflow around them. 

It’s All About Airflow

No matter what kind of aisle containment is used, and no matter how efficient the cooling system, saving space, improving efficiency, and keeping things organized, maximizing rack space efficiency and airflow is vital.

That’s why data centers choose ZeroU racks and cable management systems. They not only help avoid the spaghetti mess and all the cable issues that can arise from it, but also help maximize airflow and save significant rack space in any system.

Whether you are retrofitting a data center or engaged in new construction, we have the rack system that’s right for you. 

Contact AnD Cable Products today for all of your cable, rack, and physical network security needs. We’d love to start a conversation about the right solution for you. 

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff – Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cable labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and rack space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online at https://andcable.com/shop/

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Rapid Data Center Growth: Keys to Rack Management Success

Rapid Data Center Growth: Keys to Rack Management Success - AnD Cable Management Blog

The COVID pandemic hit, and workers headed home for good, but not just to binge old episodes of Fringe and eat ice cream on the sofa. They headed there to work, which meant that suddenly data centers were overloaded. Operating at near maximum capacity, HVAC systems strained to keep up, and data center managers lost fistfuls of hair seeking solutions to keeping up with the exponential pace of data center growth.

Jump to Section:

Rapid Data Center Growth: Keys to Rack Management Success - AnD Cable Management Blog
Data center growth has been rapid in response to COVID-19, with remote workers needing to be online, all the time

But they recovered rapidly, developing plans for expansion and revamping of their current space, and socially distanced technicians went to work on keeping up with growth as best they could.

Now, even as recovery looms, many companies have discovered the huge advantage of remote work, and more workers will be staying in their home offices wearing athletic-leisure wear (at least from the waist down) than at any time in history.

That means the boom of data center growth is not yet over. So what are the keys to rack management success and making the most of your data center space? Here are some thoughts for you.

Assess Your Rack Management

The first step is to look at your current space. Do you have a spaghetti mess of wiring at the rear of each rack, and is your hardware suffering from previous rushed expansion and repair attempts? There is hope.

There is a very common two rack configuration in data centers. The first rack is a network rack and the second is used for horizontal cross connects. There is nothing wrong with this staple setup except that with some small and rapid changes, you can free up a great deal of space in each rack. Here’s how. 

Change Your Cable Managers

First, the cross connect rack on average contains 10 2RU cable managers managing the cables from 9 2RU patch panels with 48 ports each. A simple way to free up 20 RU of space is to replace the 2RU cable managers with Zero U Cable Management Racks.

It’s actually a simple change, and you have literally transformed your cabinet space in a matter of moments. But that isn’t all. In your two cabinet system, you typically have two 2RU cable managers, which if replaced using the above mentioned ZeroU Cable Management Racks frees up an additional 4RU of space.

Zero U Horizontal Cable Management Rack - AnD Cable Products
Our Zero U Cable Management Rack helps you keep track of your cables and manage troubleshooting – while saving you heaps of rack space

Between the two cabinets you have now freed up 24 RU of rack space. Is your configuration different? Simply think of it this way – every 2 RU cable manager you replace with a ZeroU unit frees up 2 RU of space.

For every 1 RU cable manager you replace, you gain 1 RU of space. Check out some of our best sellers below:

What else can you do to improve the utilization of your racks?

Use the Right Cables

We mentioned that 2 RU patch panels are common in the cross connect rack. In fact, there are nine of them in our example. But there is a simple change you can make to reduce the rack space you use.

Switch to 28 AWG patch cables. Because they are 36% skinnier than their counterparts, you can have the same 48 port patch panel, but substitute a compact 1RU unit instead. That cuts the amount of space you are using in half. This means your two rack system can now hold twice as many ports in the same space. Select your prefered option below – and don’t forget some cable labels for easy identification and to make troubleshooting easier:

Show me the Money

So what will this cost you? Let’s look really quickly at a breakdown if you are retrofitting your existing racks:

  • 10 ZeroU Cable Management Racks will cost you $211.00.
  • However, since you are going to free up enough room to add another 10 to the same rack, your cost will be $422.00.
  • You’ve eliminated the need for another rack, saving you $1,600.00 – $3,000.00 – or you’ve freed up space in that rack for another system.

Repeating the process of course saves you money quickly. You can also replace bulky vertical cable managers with smaller 4” units at the same time, saving yourself even more space and money.

This works the same way with new installations, reducing the space you use initially. Now you are using five cabinets rather than eight for four systems with the same number of ports.

The Cable Management Difference

One of the largest issues in rapid data center growth is floor space, airflow management, and HVAC requirements. The key to getting ahead of all of those things is the right cable management plan and efficient rack management.

Starting with ZeroU Cable Managers and the right patch cables can get your data center off on the right foot.

The Right Partnership

There are a lot of companies who sell racks, cables, and cable management equipment, but you need more than just a salesman. You need someone who understands data centers, can respond to your individual needs, and can create and ship you what you need in a timely manner.

Personal service makes all the difference. AnD Cable Products offers unique products and customized solutions should you need them. You’ll talk to a real person with real-world knowledge and experience.

Is your data center growing? Contact us today. We’re here to help you grow efficiently and manage the space you already have. We can’t wait to talk with you.


Optimizing Server Cabinet Rack Space to Maximize Efficiency and Reduce Costs

Optimizing Rack Space and Air Flow in Server Racks and Cabinets

Smart optimization can help you increase rack space and realize significant equipment cost savings. Read our step-by-step guide that shows you how – and how much you could save.

  • How Much Rack Space You Could Save
  • How to Optimize for Maximum Efficiency
  • Savings for New and Retrofit Installations
  • Overall Cost and Space Savings Post-Optimization

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/