air cooling system

Is Air Cooling Finally Becoming a Thing of the Past? What the Experts Have to Say

On: September 7, 2023 Comments: 0
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A cooling system is one of your data center’s most critical components. And for the most part, that cooling system has long depended on air. Until now, that is. Recent innovations have resulted in newer and better data center cooling methods, such as liquid immersion cooling. So, is air cooling disappearing from the scene?

Not entirely. While air cooling is starting to take a back seat to liquid immersion cooling, there’s actually room for both. In fact, a hybrid solution may be just what data center owners and operators need.

air cooling system illustration

Air Cooling: The Advantages and Disadvantages

The traditional way to cool data centers is by using air conditioners to push fresh air through the facility. The air passes over servers, and heat is slowly transported off. As you can guess, it takes a lot of air to cool a data center. It’s basically like blowing on the servers to cool them down.

As a result, air cooling requires much more electricity than immersion cooling, making it an inefficient approach. This excessive use of electricity adds substantially to the costs of running a data center. Other negative effects include increased carbon emissions and water waste due to the electricity generation process.

On the plus side, air cooling is a long-established practice. Many data centers have used this technology for years. They’ve built the knowledge and infrastructure to support an air system. In such cases, it can make sense to eke out the remaining value of an air cooling system and wait until there’s a specific motivation to upgrade, like adding high-density racks or expanding or building a facility.

air cooling

Liquid Immersion Cooling Revolutionizes the Process

A liquid immersion cooling system uses a liquid coolant instead of air. In general, liquid has far better heat removal characteristics than air, which makes it an optimal cooling solution. For example, Green Revolution Cooling’s (GRC) ElectroSafe can remove well over a thousand times more heat than air.

Liquid’s much-improved cooling performance has several related benefits, cutting as much as 95% of a data center’s energy use for cooling. That also implies a massive reduction of emissions, water waste, and the other environmental problems associated with air cooling.

What’s more, the improved performance means immersion cooling can handle high-performance computing (HPC), artificial intelligence, blockchain, and other high-density loads that often overwhelm cooling fans. And you can deploy GRC’s liquid immersion cooling tanks anywhere: even without raised floors, air handlers, or other infrastructure.

Immersion cooling can also extend the life of your expensive data center hardware. For instance, GRC’s ElectroSafe coolant protects hardware against threats like dust, corrosion, and oxidation. And because servers immersed in the liquid don’t need fans, you can remove the vibrations that lead to early system failure and electronic waste. Finally, the system is extremely quiet, so technicians can safely and comfortably work in the area.

The many advantages of liquid immersion cooling make it an ideal choice for data centers adding high-density IT capacity. This cooling system costs less and delivers much more effective cooling in fewer square feet.

Why Hybrid Cooling Could Be the Best Choice

While liquid immersion cooling generally works better than air, there are also situations in which it makes sense to retain some air-cooled hardware. For example, installing a liquid immersion cooling system requires some retooling of your space. Some data centers may want to hold onto their existing air cooling infrastructure for a few more years while they make the necessary adjustments.

Data centers can use liquid immersion cooling for their highest-density servers, such as when installing powerful new processors. At the same time, a facility already operating with air cooling for low-power systems can keep those fans running. If data centers can extract three or five more years of service from their air-cooled units, it may be more profitable to run a hybrid cooling system.

How GRC Approaches Liquid Immersion Cooling Solutions

As an innovator of liquid immersion cooling for data centers, GRC delivers high-density rack-based cooling solutions. These systems can handle the most challenging demands the industry faces now and in the foreseeable future. Liquid immersion cooling can tame the power-hungry, heat-spewing processors that exceed the limits of air cooling systems alone.

As an example, GRC’s ICEraQ supports densities of up to 368 kW, far above and beyond what you could accomplish with air cooling. This solution virtually eliminates waste electricity, bringing down the power usage effectiveness ratio to 1.03. Even better, you can scale up flexibly in any liquid or hybrid facility without the need for complicated capacity planning.

GRC’s engineers are constantly working to improve liquid immersion cooling capabilities. Their analysis and testing of coolants, heat sinks, thermal interface materials, and other innovations keep pace with internationally recognized industry partners.

Processors will only continue to increase in performance and heat accumulation. Meanwhile, data centers of all configurations keep boosting their rack wattages. Recognizing that each data center has its unique requirements, GRC makes liquid immersion cooling solutions that operate reliably for your particular facility.

Streamline Your Upgrade From Air Cooling to Liquid Immersion Cooling With GRC

While air cooling isn’t about to disappear entirely, it can no longer keep up with today’s high-density computing needs. Newer and more capable liquid immersion cooling offers a far more compelling performance and cost profile.

A hybrid cooling approach can smooth the transition from older air cooling to a more modern liquid immersion cooling system. By combining both cooling technologies in one facility, you have access to your legacy resources while also future-proofing your data center.

GRC’s cutting-edge liquid immersion cooling systems perform well both on their own and in hybrid deployments. The tanks are quick and affordable to install and they massively elevate your IT density. What’s more, by eliminating most electricity and water waste, these sustainable systems deliver greener cooling.

Contact GRC today to find out what cooling solution might best serve your data center’s needs.