Schneider Electric White Paper: Liquid-Cooled vs. Air-Cooled Large Data Centers

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Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric has released a new White Paper (#282), titled ‘Capital Cost Analysis of Immersive Liquid-Cooled vs. Air-Cooled Large Data Centers.’ This white paper provides a detailed comparison of the capital costs of a 2MW data center using traditional air-cooling, versus a second utilizing racks where each server chassis is partially filled with a dielectric fluid. This new architecture is called chassis-based immersion.

Overall, the cost analysis showed that the capital expenditure (CapEx) of each approach is comparable at similar power densities of 10kW/rack. However, applications utilizing greater compaction and higher power densities of up to 40kW per rack, possible only with liquid cooling, resulted in far greater cost savings. At 20kW/rack the space savings result in an overall reduction of 10%, whereas at 40kW/rack the CapEx savings are 14%.

“From an environmental perspective, liquid cooling provides significant sustainability benefits by reducing the water and energy consumption of data centers,” said Robert Bunger, Liquid Cooling Program Director, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric. “Other benefits include increased power densities, reduced footprint and noise pollution, lower capital costs and improved reliability. For customers in the edge computing, telco and Hyperscale spaces, this technology presents real promise. I believe it will continue to exceed our expectations with future developments.”

This white paper about Liquid-Cooled vs. Air-Cooled Large Data Centers is available for immediate download via the Schneider Electric website.

Removal of Air-Cooling Components

Robert Bunger
“From an environmental perspective, liquid cooling provides significant sustainability benefits by reducing the water and energy consumption of data centers,” said Robert Bunger, Liquid Cooling Program Director, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric.

Focusing exclusively on capital costs, rather than a total cost of ownership (TCO) comparison, the white paper examines how additional investment into the infrastructure for an immersive liquid-cooling deployment are offset by the removal of air-cooling components. This includes chillers, containment systems and computer room air handlers (CRAHs), which represent a considerable cost saving for owners and operators.

By reducing the air-cooling equipment, power components including uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and switchgear can also be removed, contributing further to the associated space saving.

In late 2019, Schneider Electric announced its integrated data center rack with immersed, Liquid-Cooled IT, in partnership with Iceotope and Avnet. Chassis-based immersive cooling is an emerging technology, however, the cost savings calculated within Schneider Electric White Paper #282 are representative of a near-term deployment at scale. Additional savings can be expected as future technology and manufacturing efficiencies improve.

About the Authors

Robert Bunger is a Program Director within the CTO office at Schneider Electric. He has held management positions in customer service, technical sales, offer management, business development and industry associations. He was previously a commissioned officer in the US Navy Submarine force. He has a BS in Computer Science from the US Naval Academy and MS EE from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Wendy Torell is a Senior Research Analyst at Schneider Electric’s Data Center Science Center. She researches best practices in data center design and operation and develops TradeOff Tools to help clients optimize the availability, efficiency and cost of their data center environments. She also consults with clients on availability science approaches and design practices to help them meet their data center performance objectives.

Victor Avelar is the Director and Senior Research Analyst at Schneider Electric’s Data Center Science Center. He is responsible for data center design and operations research and consults with clients on risk assessment and design practices to optimize the availability and efficiency of their data center environments. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Babson College.

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