Retrofitting an Air-Cooled Data Centers is Simpler Than You Think Blog

Upgrading Air-Cooled Data Centers to Immersion Cooling is Simpler Than You Think

Alex McManis, Vice President, Engineering, GRC
On: March 15, 2021 Comments: 0
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When we talk immersion cooling, we talk single-phase immersion cooling, not two-phase.

The prospect of overhauling any complex IT system is enough to give any I&O leader nightmares. But upgrading air-cooled data centers to immersion cooling solution is a lot simpler—and less stress-inducing—than most people imagine.

Find that hard to believe? Here’s a bit-by-bit breakdown to show you exactly what we mean.

Removing Heat from the Room

The coolant distribution unit (CDU) is the all-important hub of any immersion cooling system. It removes the heat from the coolant exiting the server racks through a coolant-to-water heat exchanger connected to a warm- or chilled-water loop.

In retrofitting your data center with an ICEraQ® immersion cooling system from GRC, you can easily connect the CDU to the air-handlers’ existing water and electrical lines.

Connect the CDU to Existing Water & Electrical Lines Call
Upgrading Air-Cooled Data Centers—How Immersion Cooling Works Diagram

Ambient Air Cooling

As advertised, an immersion cooling system will dissipate the vast majority of server heat. Each rack dissipates approximately 500W into the room because the fluid and rack are typically warmer than ambient air.

For this reason, we recommend keeping a room air conditioner around for technician comfort, counteracting heat from transformers, electrical panels, and the like.

Keep a room air conditioner for technician comfort.

Raised Floors

Essential for airflow on legacy cooling systems, raised floors are fast becoming ghosts of data centers past. While not required, you can retain them to keep all wires and piping under the flooring when switching over to a GRC immersion cooling solution. We also offer a below-floor CDU option for use with existing raised floors, allowing for further increased floor density.

Immersion cooling frees you to create an efficient layout that makes expansion easy.

Power Planning

Power planning typically constitutes a huge portion of any data center build or redesign. Fortunately, if you’re switching to immersion cooling, you can increase your power budget.

Once you’ve removed all your energy-sapping air-cooled equipment, and we’ve optimized your servers by removing their fans, you’ll be able to fit more servers in the same power envelope—without electrical upgrades.

Legacy Air Power & Compute
Immersion Cooling Power & Compute

Fire Suppression

Whether you’re building a new data center from the ground up, or updating the one you have, fire suppression is one of the many items on what can be a very long to-do list.

Remember, simplicity and flexibility are two hallmarks of immersion cooling systems. So, when you migrate to a GRC ICEraQ solution, you can keep the same fire suppression system you have now—and sleep soundly

Keep the same fire suppression system you have now.
Fire Suppression System Image

Water Piping and Infrastructure

CDUs for GRC immersion cooling systems use an automated valve to adjust flow when needed for varying loads. When thinking about water piping and infrastructure, balancing valves may be required depending on what other loads are in your water branch.

You can use the piping from your air handlers for this purpose. Either keep your existing chilled-water system, or reroute to a warm-water loop for the greatest OpEx savings. Water-side free-cooling (without the use of compressors) can reduce operating costs significantly because water temperatures can be increased to 86-95°F (30-35°C).

Balancing Water Valves May Be Required
Water Valve

Data Center Floor Layout

Legacy data center layouts can often be sprawling landscapes dictated by the inefficiencies of air cooling. Since airflow is no longer a factor with immersion cooling, physical access to the racks is the primary consideration when it comes to layout.

GRC ICEraQ systems are arranged end-to-end, making the space-wasting hot/cold aisle schemes of air cooling a thing of the past.

Immersion cooling also greatly simplifies capacity planning. There’s no need to purchase all of the cooling at once. Just plan the room for the future and fill out from one side.

Immersion cooling frees you to create an efficient layout that makes expansion easy.

Planning & Financing

Given rapid advancements in and increased reliance on IT, the capacity planning, budgeting, and financing associated with legacy air-cooling are normally fraught with complexities. Because it offers tremendous flexibility and scalability, plus lower CapEx, immersion cooling eases many of these complications.

Another plus: green data center solutions from GRC may also qualify for energy-efficiency government subsidies and tax rebates when upgrading air-cooled data centers. You should also explore taking advantage of hot water reuse revenue streams.

An immersion Cooling retrofit may qualify you for energy efficiency government subsidies and tax rebates/
Upgrading Air-Cooled Data Centers—Planning and Financial

That Was Easy. Ready to Take the Plunge?

Take the first step to leaving legacy air-cooling behind by future-proofing your data center with proven immersion cooling systems from GRC. Contact a data center cooling expert today at ContactUs@grcooling.com or +1.512.692.8003.