Uncool Data Centers Need To Chill Out

The need to control heat is fueling a robust market for data center cooling systems.

February 27, 2006

3 Min Read
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The market for data center cooling systems is heating up, with products from American Power Conversion, Emerson Network Power's Liebert subsidiary, Fluent, and Hewlett-Packard offering new ways to chill.

Liebert and Egenera last month jointly introduced CoolFrame, a system that integrates Egenera's BladeFrame EX blades with Liebert's XD cooling technology. CoolFrame lets data center managers deploy high-density blade servers while adding almost no heat to their facilities, says Steve Madara, general manager of Emerson's environmental business unit.

CoolFrame can reduce as much as 20,000 watts of heat dissipation to 1,500 watts without impacting server performance and lower data center cooling costs by a quarter in the process. The system places the Liebert XD waterless cooling module on the back of the Egenera blade-server chassis.

Cost Control

HP's Modular Cooling System, introduced this month, uses chilled water to triple the cooling capacity of a single rack. In addition, HP added the 10000 G2 Series Rack, which it says provides efficiencies across its server and storage lines, and a power-distribution unit management module. The cooling system attaches to the side of the 10000 G2, using chilled water to distribute cool air across the front of the rack.At OpSource, a provider of computing capacity for companies that offer hosted software, HP blade servers with AMD Opteron processors have made it possible to increase density without overheating the data center. The company has deployed 700 HP blade servers and is adding about 10 per month. It plans to evaluate HP's cooling system in case heat becomes an issue as the blade count goes up.

"We're looking for a reduction in overall cooling costs, and by dealing with the heat generated by the blades more locally, we believe those overall costs will go down," says OpSource VP of marketing Mitchell Cipriano.

American Power Conversion's InfraStruXure system lets data-center managers move away from a "circle the wagons" approach of surrounding floors with huge cooling boxes or installing cooling ducts among rows of servers, storage, and network equipment, APC product-line manager Kevin Nusky says.

With the APC platform, modular air-conditioning units are bolted onto the side of each equipment rack, providing up to 60 kilowatts of direct cooling. The system feeds water to each cooling unit. A Rack Air Containment System removes exhaust so warm air doesn't move back into the cooled environment.

Design AidFluent has introduced software to help data center managers and engineers improve the design of floor layouts and the placement of equipment, with the goal of reducing the risk of thermal-related equipment failure. Fluent's CoolSim tools pinpoint areas of concern within a data center layout and let managers run simulations to avoid problems.

Dell provides assessment services to help customers with data center design, and it works with companies such as Liebert and APC to provide cooling equipment. But Dell senior manager John Fruehe warns about investing in cooling systems that attach directly to server racks, describing them as proprietary products that lock customers into a vendor.

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