The Evolving Landscape of Data Center Cooling Systems Infrastructure

  • Published | 19 January 2024

In the contemporary digital landscape, where every online interaction relies on the seamless functioning of data centers, the significance of efficient cooling systems cannot be overstated. These data hubs, responsible for processing colossal amounts of global data in rapid intervals, inherently generate substantial heat. Thus, implementing robust cooling infrastructure emerges as a critical aspect in ensuring the longevity and reliability of these centers.

Data Center Cooling Systems InfrastructureEffective data center cooling systems play multifaceted roles, from safeguarding equipment against damage caused by high temperatures and humidity to optimizing overall system performance. Beyond preventing malfunctions and breakdowns, these systems contribute to the prevention of latency issues for end-users, ensuring a consistently smooth digital experience. Moreover, the imperative of safety is addressed through efficient cooling, mitigating the risk of potential fire hazards within data centers. The adoption of cooling measures not only guarantees a secure operational environment but also promotes cost-effectiveness. By minimizing the need for frequent equipment repairs and replacements, efficient cooling translates into reduced operational expenses, making it a strategic investment for data center operators. In navigating the evolving landscape of data processing and transfer, the integration of energy-efficient cooling technologies emerges not only as a necessity but as a cornerstone in building resilient, high-performance, and sustainable data center infrastructures.

In January 2024, Aligned Data Centers Unveils DeltaFlow: Liquid Cooling Innovation for High-Density Workloads up to 300kW

Aligned Data Centers has introduced DeltaFlow, a cutting-edge liquid cooling system tailored for high-density compute needs and supercomputers, capable of cooling densities up to 300kW per rack. The DeltaFlow system is a turnkey solution supporting various liquid cooling technologies, such as direct-to-chip, rear-door heat exchangers, and immersion cooling. Integrating seamlessly with Aligned's air-cooled Delta technology, it requires no modifications to power delivery or existing data hall temperatures. This universal liquid cooling platform enables customers to efficiently scale across increasing rack densities, leveraging advancements in chipset technology and GPUs while minimizing time-to-market, cost, and risk. The architecture supports liquid-to-chip, rack, or tank cooling in a closed-loop system, eliminating the need for outside air or water.

Cool Tech Collaboration at CES 2024 : In January 2024, ZutaCore and Valeo Team Up for Liquid Cooling Revolution

US liquid cooling company ZutaCore has joined forces with French automotive firm Valeo to introduce an innovative data center cooling solution. Under a four-year commercial agreement announced at CES 2024, Valeo will supply its data center cooling distribution units to be incorporated into ZutaCore's HyperCool liquid cooling offerings. The collaboration aims to enhance data center efficiency and sustainability. Valeo's Heat Reuse Unit (HRU), delivering 60kW cooling power in a 3U form, will be integrated into ZutaCore's system. The HRU, equipped with hot-swappable pumps, produces hot water above 65°C (149°F), allowing for efficient heat recovery. This strategic partnership builds on their collaboration initiated at CES 2023, focusing on advancing liquid cooling methods for data centers. The first delivery of Valeo's cooling components to ZutaCore is expected in H2 2024.

In December 2023, NREL Joins $40M ARPA-E Program to Revolutionize Data Center Cooling Systems

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is actively engaged in a $40 million initiative led by the U.S. Department of Energy's ARPA-E, known as COOLERCHIPS. This collaborative effort, featuring 15 projects, aims to revolutionize data center cooling for enhanced energy efficiency.

NREL takes the lead on a $1.5 million initiative alongside Georgia Tech and Sandia National Laboratories, forming the COOLERCHIPS Technical Evaluation Team. This team is instrumental in developing standardized testing procedures to assess cooling technologies at various scales. The rigorous evaluations will be applied to all COOLERCHIPS projects, ensuring consistency and comparability. NREL and Georgia Tech will also host and evaluate newly developed cooling systems, contributing to the advancement of standardized and efficient cooling solutions for real-world data center operations. The overall goal aligns with broader clean energy objectives, targeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

NREL's Sreekant Narumanchi and his advanced power electronics and electric machines research team are pivotal contributors to multiple COOLERCHIPS partner projects like

The University of Missouri secured $1.6 million to develop an innovative hybrid mechanical-capillary-driven two-phase loop for data center cooling. Led by senior research engineer Douglas DeVoto, NREL's involvement aims to leverage the technology's dual-mode operation, low thermal resistance, high heat flux, and scalability.

The University of Maryland received $3.5 million for an integrated decision support software tool, linking open-source software for modeling data center reliability, energy, carbon footprint, and cost. NREL's support, led by research engineer Jiazhen Ling, aims to enhance design advancements compared to existing technologies.

The University of Florida obtained $3 million to create a disruptive thermal management solution for cooling future CPU and GPU chips in data centers. Led by senior research engineer Gilbert Moreno, NREL's involvement focuses on facilitating significant processor power growth while efficiently rejecting heat to the ambient air outside the data center.

In December 2023, Intel Jumps into the Cool Zone: Joins RISE Research Project for Data Center Cooling in Sweden

Intel has joined forces with RISE, Sweden's research institute for sustainable transition technologies, in their data center research initiative. This collaboration involves Intel's participation in RISE's data center testbed, named the Infrastructure and Cloud research & test Environment (ICE). The focus is on sustainable chip cooling using both air and liquid methods. RISE, situated in Luleå, Sweden, already collaborates with industry giants such as Meta, Ericsson, Vattenfall, and others. Intel's contribution includes supporting ICE with thermal test vehicles and chip heat flux emulators. The collaboration aims to accelerate thermal innovations for cloud and server platforms. RISE's comprehensive test environment encompasses various facilities, from data center modules to climate boxes and liquid cooling testbeds. The partnership aligns with Intel's goal of advancing cooling solutions for the next generation of hardware. Despite scrapping its planned $700 million cooling research facility, Intel remains committed to thermal innovations through initiatives like the DOE's Coolerchips program.

In December 2023, Equinix Powers Up: Streamlining Liquid Cooling for Enterprise AI Workloads

Equinix Empowers Liquid Cooling for Enterprise AI: With support in over 45 key metros, Equinix accelerates the deployment of advanced liquid cooling solutions, including direct-to-chip and rear-door heat exchangers. Customers gain access to a rich ecosystem through Platform Equinix, with a vendor-neutral approach allowing flexibility in hardware choices. Tiffany Osias, VP of Global Colocation at Equinix, emphasizes the company's central role in revolutionizing data center cooling for high-density hardware supporting emerging technologies. Equinix's expertise enables innovation in data center capacity to meet the demands of modern IT deployments, particularly for AI applications. The company supports Open19 V2 specifications, promoting an open standard for diverse hardware integration in any data center environment. Equinix's commitment to liquid cooling reflects its dedication to facilitating efficient and sustainable solutions for enterprise data centers.

Data center infrastructure

In December 2023, Accelsius Launches Test-Drive Program for Two-Phase Cooling Innovation

Accelsius, a company that commercialized technology from Nokia's Bell Labs, launched a test-drive program for its two-phase cooling system. The initiative, which took place last year, provided data center operators with on-site trials of Accelsius' NeuCool technology. This system utilized a dielectric coolant that boiled in a direct-to-chip setup. Participants in the program received a system rack, specifically the Rack Front Iso.229 MC, and played a crucial role in the final beta testing phase. Accelsius aimed to gather feedback on the performance of the NeuCool system to enhance and refine its cooling technology based on real-world usage. Accelsius stood out in the field of two-phase cooling systems by using a dielectric coolant. This approach addressed concerns about potential leaks damaging electronics and allowed for integration into standard rack designs without the need for immersion tanks. But the closed-loop nature of the system minimized potential health risks associated with certain substances, offering a more reassuring solution for data center cooling.

In December 2023, Vertiv Completes Acquisition of Data Center Liquid Cooling Firm CoolTera

Vertiv completed the acquisition of CoolTera, a UK-based liquid cooling business specializing in coolant distribution infrastructure for data centers. The acquisition included contracts, patents, trademarks, and intellectual property from CoolTera's affiliate. CoolTera, founded in 2016, designed and manufactured coolant distribution units, secondary fluid networks, and manifolds for liquid cooling solutions in data centers. This strategic move strengthened Vertiv's position in high-density cooling solutions, aligning with its long-term vision for value creation. The acquisition enhanced Vertiv's ability to cater to the growing demands of global data center customers, particularly in supporting AI at scale.

In November 2023, Infosys Partnered with Shell to Lead the Way in Sustainable Data Centers through Immersion Cooling Services

Infosys, an Indian IT services company, adopted Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid from Shell New Energies UK for its integrated green data center product. Utilizing Infosys' Topaz AI platforms cooled by Shell's single-phase synthetic immersion coolant, the collaboration aimed to address the environmental impact of data centers, which accounted for 1.5 percent of global electricity production and around one percent of CO2 emissions. Infosys believed that immersion cooling could mitigate the increased energy consumption expected from the growth of generative AI, estimating a potential 48 percent reduction in energy use. The companies planned to test Shell's fluid in their data centers and offer the combined solution globally. Despite Shell's fossil fuel operations, it aimed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Infosys, already carbon-neutral since 2020, emphasized the collaboration's focus on creating environmentally responsible data centers capable of managing high computing loads efficiently.

In October 2023, MHI Unveils Innovative Containerized Data Center: Fusion of Immersion and Air-Cooled Hybrid Cooling System

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) developed a revolutionary 40kVA-class 12ft container-type data center featuring an immersion/air-cooled hybrid cooling system. This cutting-edge facility accommodates servers using three distinct cooling methods: immersion cooling (25kVA), air cooling (8kVA), and water cooling (8kVA). MHI initiated customer trial operations in October, conducting demonstration testing for commercialization at the Yokohama Hardtech Hub. The 1.4m x 1.3m container space significantly enhances installation and removal workability. Through comprehensive system optimization, the 12ft container achieves remarkable performance, with an expected PUE of 1.05 for immersion cooling alone (1.14 with combined immersion and air cooling) in a 40°C environment. Dell Technologies Japan Inc. and NEC Networks & System Integration Corporation collaborated in the verification process.

In May 2023, Global investment company KKR Dives into CoolIT: Seals $270M Acquisition for Liquid Cooling Solutions Pioneer

Global investment powerhouse KKR finalized a deal to acquire CoolIT Systems, a leading provider of scalable liquid cooling solutions for data centers and high-performance computing. The $270 million agreement granted CoolIT access to KKR's expertise and capital. As part of the deal, CoolIT extended equity ownership to all employees, aligning with KKR's strategy to enhance employee engagement across its portfolio companies. The move reflected KKR's anticipation of significant growth in the liquid cooling sector, driven by the increasing demand for sustainable data solutions. With data centers projected to have consumed 8% of the world's energy by 2030, KKR saw liquid cooling as a crucial player in reducing the emissions footprint of the digital economy. The acquisition came as liquid cooling was poised to surge from 5% to potentially 26% of the data center thermal management market by 2026. CoolIT Systems, listed among the fastest-growing U.S. companies, secured a promising future under KKR's support.

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