Data centre operators are increasingly adopting liquid cooling as an eco-friendly solution to manage the heat generated by high-density computing capabilities, such as those required for AI applications. This approach is not only more efficient than traditional air conditioning but also supports sustainability initiatives. This article will discuss the role of data centre liquid cooling, explore the two main types of liquid cooling systems, and highlight the advantages of liquid cooling. For more insights into the key role sustainability plays in the IT decision-making processes, download Chapter 2 of our “Vision for Digital Infrastructure in 2030″ report.

How is liquid cooling used in data centres?

Liquid cooling in data centres is an innovative approach to managing the heat output of high-performance computing systems. This method is increasingly vital as data centres evolve to handle more intensive tasks. Liquid or water-cooling technology typically follows these basic steps:

  1. Coolant-filled baseplates absorb the heat from central processing units, preventing them from getting warmer
  2. Heat moves through a tube and into a Heat Exchanger
  3. Air exposure allows the liquid in the Heat Exchanger to cool down
  4. The cooled liquid is returned to the baseplate.

Two main types of liquid cooling will likely define the sector moving forward: conductive or direct liquid cooling and liquid immersion cooling. Direct liquid cooling in the data centre taps into the principle of using liquid to siphon off heat from processor components directly:

  1. Heat sinks are attached to the processor
  2. Liquid passes through the heat sink
  3. Heat is then sent from the hot processor to the cooler liquid

Immersion data centre cooling works a bit differently:

  1. Servers are altered to deal with submersion
  2. Servers are submerged in a specially engineered, non-conductive fluid
  3. Heat then disperses into the liquid medium

The two data centre liquid cooling options

There are several different water cooling configurations that data centre operators can deploy to cool their data centre racks. The two main options are:

  1. All-in-one systems: These systems provide a streamlined, out-of-the-box solution for data centre liquid cooling. Easy to install and ideal for quick deployment, All-in-One systems come pre-assembled, catering well to data centres with standard cooling requirements. However, their limited customisation options may not be suitable for facilities requiring bespoke cooling solutions
  2. Custom cooling loops: Designed for greater flexibility and personalisation, these systems are composed of individual components that can be tailored to specific cooling requirements. Custom cooling loops demand more time and expertise for design and installation but offer an optimal solution for data centres with unique architectural layouts or specific cooling challenges.

Advantages of data centre liquid cooling

Data centre liquid cooling brings several benefits to data centres, including:

  • Guaranteed server uptime: By reducing overheating, servers can operate longer without interruption
  • Rack densities can be drastically increased: Customers can rollout power-intensive workloads essential for their expansion
  • Cooling systems consume less energy: Operators can reduce their energy bills, improve their PUE numbers and lessen carbon footprints with water-cooled data centre racks
  • CRAH/RAC units can be removed: Removing CRAH/RAC units frees up space in data halls for other deployments, and the absence of fans means quieter operations
  • Longer technology lifespans can be achieved: Reduced heat stress extends the life of technology infrastructure
  • Heat Export: Swift evolution of AI and High-Performance Computing. The liquid-cooled server or immersion cooling brings with them a potential for higher-grade waste heat. Data Centre Waste Heat can be efficiently harvested for supplying district heating schemes.

Liquid cooling is more than just a technological advancement, it represents a significant step towards a more sustainable future in the data centre industry. The adoption of data centre liquid cooling is closely aligned with achieving sustainability goals, helping to reduce energy consumption and minimise environmental footprints. This makes it an essential strategy for data centres committed to sustainable operations and environmental responsibility.

To discover how data centre liquid cooling can contribute to your data centre’s sustainability goals and enhance operational efficiency, get in touch with Telehouse, leaders in sustainable data centre solutions.