Liquid Cooling in Data Centers

Posted by Instor on Oct 27, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Some companies are rethinking their data center cooling systems. Liquid cooling technology has been on the horizon for a long time, but it has started to stir things up recently. Artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) might be causing the upheaval.


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Liquid Cooling Technology Generating Heat in the Data Center Industry

The $2.42 billion AI market is expected to grow to $59.7 billion by 2025 and the investment in industrial IoT is expected to be $60 trillion in the next 15 years. Data centers are realizing that traditional cooling systems may be unable to sustain performance for these new servers. It may be time for a change.

The Pros and Cons of Liquid Cooling

Liquid cooling technology has a bad reputation for being an expensive alternative. This might have been true in the past, but recent advances in the technology is making it more affordable for data centers of all shapes and sizes.

Businesses can benefit in multiple ways from replacing their current cooling system with liquid cooling. It makes it possible for data centers to maintain higher density installations. Without the worry of traditional air distribution, data centers can optimize the use of physical space. Also, liquid cooling needs less energy to provide the same amount of cooling as traditional systems.

Companies in need of high-end processors can get the highest level of performance with liquid cooling. In case of moving data centers, liquid cooling installations are easier to manage than air distribution systems.

However, liquid cooling technology is still more expensive than traditional cooling. The installation process is more complex, and there is always the concern of leaks, which has led many data centers to shy away from it as a serious solution.

Also, older data centers are heavily invested in other technologies. It’s harder for them to remove or replace their legacy systems. Data centers might be missing out on a potential improvement opportunity.

Movements in the Liquid Cooling Market

The market is seeing the potential. The Danish liquid cooling company Asetek has seen its stock rise 136 percent after it started targeting data centers for its products. There are rumors of an Intel and Asetek partnership. At the moment, 91 percent of Asetek’s business is dependent on desktop computers, so its expansion into data centers can be viewed as a big positive. The data center cooling market is estimated to be between $5 billion to $10 billion USD.

The possibilities have attracted other companies to try to compete in this space. CoolIT is providing its liquid cooling tech for Dell’s PowerEdge Servers. Companies such as Chilldyne, Green Revolution Cooling, Iceotope and more are trying out their tech to win the market.

AI and IoT might end up as the ultimate catalyst in changing the landscape. Data centers that support AI-based computations are using a record number of GPUs, and IoT is giving rise to edge computing. These data centers need a better way to support the generated heat. And liquid cooling is winning the battle.

Data center managers who have a stake in the high-performance computing (HPC), may consider the potential of liquid cooling. Managers will have to figure out the cost of moving from legacy systems. It is not an easy task. But in order to stay competitive, companies with high-performance requirements may eventually see liquid cooling as a top solution.


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