Quickly rising densities in data centers and an overall trend that does not foresee absolute data center power consumption to decrease anytime soon, IT is in need for equally increasing efficiency of cooling technologies and approaches. Fortunately, there are solutions off the beaten path that provide the tools to provide IT with room for computing capacity growth.
Data centers are estimated to consume somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 percent of all power generated in the U.S., according to Stanford University. And IT overall accounts for about 2 percent of the world's carbon emissions, according to IBM. The growth of both numbers has slowed over the past years, but our hunger for more and more computing capacity is challenging our ability to provide enough power to run data centers, including all components such as cooling requirements, which may consume up to 50 percent of the power bill.
Smaller and much more efficient chip architectures promise an increase of computing efficiency with every new product generation, and IT is now working with server racks that can consume and dissipate between two and 5 kW in the mid range. High-end systems, such as Nvidia’s Grid, ask for up to 45 kW. Traditional air cooling will not remain the only answer in data center cooling in ultra-dense environments.
Wolfgang Gruener is a contributor to Tom's IT Pro. He is currently principal analyst at Ndicio Research, a market analysis firm that focuses on and disruptive technologies. An 18-year veteran in IT journalism and , he previously published TG Daily and was editor of Tom's Hardware news, which he grew from a link collection in the early 2000s into one of the most comprehensive and trusted technology news sources.
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