Types of Data Center Cooling Solutions

August 18, 2020

Data centers emit heat as they process and store more information than ever before. Server rooms must have effective cooling methods to combat this heat to keep the machines running smoothly.

With all of the data center cooling methods available, it may be challenging to determine what makes them all different. Here is a look at how data center cooling works for each system.

1. Computer Room Air Conditioner and Handlers

Computer room air conditioners (CRAC) appear just like a residential unit, but they are designed to be used in a server room. The air is pulled in by the compressor and drawn across the refrigerant, creating cool air for the room. CRACs are the most common system because they are cost-effective.

Computer room air handlers (CRAH) are slightly different than CRACs because they are not a separate unit. They are also powered by a more extensive system. With CRAHs, cold water is pumped into the handler and drawn across a cooling coil. Modulated fans pull in air from outside of the facility. CRAH works best in regions that are colder year-round.

2. In-Row Cooling Units

In-row cooling units allow you to monitor the inlet temperatures while managing the airflow. The units are placed in between the server cabinets, so they are “in-row” with each other. They use horizontal airflow in a hot aisle/cold aisle setup, drawing warm exhaust from the hot aisle, cooling it and pushing it out into the cold aisle. Because the hot and cold air doesn’t mix, it increases efficiency. This method is considered an alternative to CRAC and works well in small and medium-sized data centers.

3. Calibrated Vectored Cooling

Calibrated vectored cooling (CVC) makes airflow in the server room as efficient as possible by optimizing the airflow path and managing heat. It sends the cold air through the hottest, and most critical, parts of equipment. The goal of this method is to use a lower number of fans and a smaller amount of power while cooling more servers per unit.

4. Direct-To-Chip Cooling

Direct-to-Chip is a data center cooling architecture that uses liquids as its cooling method. With this system, coolant travels to the cold plate through pipes. This cold plate is incorporated with the motherboard processors that disperse heat. This heat is fed into the chilled water loop and goes to the facility’s chiller. This method is one of the most effective available because it directly cools the processors.

5. Evaporative Cooling

Evaporative cooling uses the natural process of evaporation to fuel the cooling system. Because of this, evaporative cooling is environmentally friendly and one of the most energy-efficient cooling methods. This method exposes hot air to water, so the water will evaporate and take the heat out of the air. The water can come from a misting system, filter or mat, and cooling towers facilitate the evaporation. The heat is transferred to the outside air.

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