The Advantages of Liquid Cooling in Data Center Design

As the power consumption of devices inside servers continues to increase, removing the heat generated by these components has become a significant challenge. Traditional cooling solutions such as fans and air conditioning are not always sufficient to meet the needs of high-density servers. This is where liquid cooling technology comes into play.

What is Liquid Cooling?

Liquid cooling is a technology that uses a liquid to remove heat from some or all of the components inside a server. There are several approaches to liquid cooling, including pumping liquid through a cold plate placed on top of components inside the server, immersing the server in a tank of fluid or using liquid-cooled rear door heat exchangers.

Benefits of Liquid Cooling

Dell Technologies has been offering liquid-cooled server solutions for over a decade. Customers have purchased tens of thousands of servers with liquid cooling for many reasons, including: 

More Effective Cooling: Liquid cooling provides a more efficient and effective way to remove heat from high-density servers. The heat transfer coefficient of liquid is usually much higher than that of air, which means liquid can remove heat from components more quickly and efficiently.

Improved Sustainability: Liquid cooling is often a more sustainable solution compared to traditional air-cooled solutions. Traditional air-cooling solutions can require a significant amount of energy to cool the components inside the server because fans are less energy efficient than liquid solutions. On the other hand, liquid cooling requires less energy to achieve the same level of cooling due to the higher efficiency of pumping a liquid.

Increased Density: Liquid cooling allows for increased density in data centers because higher-powered processors can be cooled in a smaller space using cold plates versus fans and heat sinks.

Flexibility: Liquid cooling may offer greater flexibility in data center design. For example, in many cases, raised floors can be eliminated. Often, power delivery, rather than air flow limitations, constrains placement of IT gear. Lack of cold air at the top of the rack no longer limits cooling, so data centers can better utilize rack space.

Today, organizations of all sizes are concerned not only about energy costs, but also about emissions. At Dell Technologies, designing our products to deliver both business and environmental benefits is essential to delivering on our commitments to address climate change and helping our customers achieve their own. As processors become increasingly difficult to cool, liquid cooling will play a significant role in sustainability and effectiveness in data center design. It provides a more effective and sustainable way to remove heat from high-density servers. Liquid cooling also allows for increased density in data centers and provides greater flexibility in data center design. Constraints such as server configuration, data center environment, cost and long-term planning play a role in determining whether liquid cooling is needed. Dell has a long history of designing servers that are effectively air-cooled, but as usage models for applications requiring more powerful processors expand, more customers are seeking liquid cooling solutions. Current trends indicate continued growth in processor power at all performance levels, so liquid cooling will continue to play an important role in data centers.

For more information, please visit Dell’s ESG Reports.