There’s no slowdown in the amount of power we’re using within the data center. A recent US Department of Energy report found that in 2014, data centers in the U.S. consumed an estimated 70 billion kWh, representing about 1.8% of total U.S. electricity consumption. Energy use is expected to continue slightly increasing in the near future, increasing 4% from 2014-2020, the same rate as the past five years. Based on current trend estimates, U.S. data centers are projected to consume approximately 73 billion kWh in 2020.
Furthermore, the latest AFCOM State of the Data Center report showed that 70% of respondents indicated that power density (per rack) has increased over the past 3 years. 26% indicated that this increase was significant.
So, what does this do to cooling, and most of all – airflow management? In the past decade, many companies have become aware of the advantages of data center airflow management practices that include containment systems.
It is also now well understood that as the average heat load per cabinet rises, simply arranging cabinets in a traditional open hot aisle/cold aisle configuration is not an effective approach. Industry associations have considered indirect and direct liquid cooling as possible solutions for high density applications, but using a containment system with perimeter cooling is still a very capable solution for today’s average rack densities and the anticipated densities over the next decade. Furthermore, containment systems support retrofit from hot aisle/cold aisle, economizer applications and free air cooling.
In this whitepaper from Chatsworth Products (CPI), we examine and compare three data center containment systems and demonstrates that there are important differences to consider that distinguish one system over the others.
To give you a better idea when it comes to containment systems – look at it this way: There are three basic methods of complete containment.
- Ducted Exhaust Cabinets (CPI: Vertical Exhaust Ducts). Ducted exhaust cabinets are enclosed server rack cabinets with an attached Vertical Exhaust Duct.
- Hot Aisle Containment (HAC). Hot aisle containment (HAC) is the most popular type of containment solution used today. In this method, a configuration of duct work and baffles are set up over the hot aisle, with doors blocking the aisle entrances at either end.
- Cold Aisle Containment. Cold aisle containment (CAC) configurations are typically used to retrofit data center environments where a raised floor cooling system already exists.
So – which one should you choose? Intel and T-Systems conducted experiments in 2010 in the Munich-based Euroindustriepark, which suggested there was no efficiency advantage for one form of containment over another. The relative cooling performance of all three systems was roughly the same.
However, recent CFD modeling created by CPI suggests that there is an efficiency advantage for ducted exhaust cabinet (CPI: Vertical Exhaust Duct) and HAC under certain conditions. However, if you’re curious to see the in-depth analysis covering a checklist of major considerations for each type of containment system – you’ll need to download the whitepaper.
The type of containment system that you select for your data center should be based on your own business requirements and architectural limitations. As this paper demonstrates, the different systems comprise different combinations of components and relative cost and depending on your specific site will require different amounts of construction. Regardless of which system you select, the reduction in cooling energy required for your site could be significant.