Using CFD Analysis to Optimize Data Center Cooling

Using CFD Analysis to Optimize Data Center Cooling

Frank Derfler

IT managers face increasing pressure to do more with less. The trend to compact equipment in an attempt to decrease real estate costs is real. Compaction, along with increasingly dense IT equipment has led to an increase in the power density found in many data centers. Long standing design practices for cooling these spaces are beginning to reach their practical limits. Calculations now need to include inlet temperature and flow information at each piece of equipment to assure proper cooling and operation. In large spaces, determining these conditions at all locations would be impractical and near impossible if not for the use of CFD, or computational fluid dynamics analysis.

CFD analysis breaks the space of the data center into thousands of individual points. For each point, there is an equation describing the flow and temperature. Each of these equations is interdependent, but powerful computers can solve them simultaneously, resulting in a detailed ‘map’ of the cooling situation. These maps can help drive proper equipment selection and placement, while helping the designer to avoid costly mistakes. Once a model is created, ‘what-if’ scenarios can be run to determine how the data center will perform under any number of abnormal conditions. Some of these conditions might include operation during maintenance, power outages, equipment failures and errors created by humans. CFD provides a fast efficient way to examine existing data center cooling problems, while aiding in the design of new space.

Copyright © 2005 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in eSeminars.