The performance of a data center is directly related to the ability to keep it running efficiently. Over the past 20 years, the typical data center ecosystem has changed and grown dramatically. 10 years ago, data center designers and managers were mainly concerned with air-cooling technologies that could keep the large scale servers cool. However, there are now a new set of density and efficiency challenges faced when managing data center environments that require a new perspective. The science behind data center cooling is ever changing and applying the right solutions is key to the success of a data center.
The Data Center Dilemma
With cloud services and big data increasing the complexity and diversity of information being stored and transmitted over networks contributing to the extensive amounts of data that must be processed daily, data centers are continuing to be a vital part of how virtually all elements of business and commerce including finance, entertainment, education, healthcare etc. This influx in data makes maintaining data centers even more important and properly managing the temperature of a data center is crucial to its safety and reliability. The servers that store and process this data generate an extremely large amount of heat and a powerful and reliable HVAC system that can operate efficiently 24 hours a day is absolutely essential. Data center managers must consider energy efficiency and cost effectiveness when cooling a data center. In recent Green Grid research into European data center usage, energy efficiency and operating costs are the most common areas of the data center reported as requiring improvement. A 2015 NRDC report indicated that data center electricity consumption is projected to increase to roughly 140 billion kilowatt-hours annually by 2020. This is the equivalent annual output of 50 power plants, costing U.S. businesses $13 billion annually in electricity bills. The tremendous strain on the power supply of a data center also greatly increases the amount of carbon emissions that damage the environment.
Data centers require a unique system of ducts and aisles that run through the ceilings, floors and spaces between server racks to circulate cold air in and remove hot air from the servers. Servers that store and process data in a data center run 24 hours a day and it is essential that the HVAC system responsible for cooling the data center must be able to efficiently provide consistent and constant cool air to the center. The security of the data stored in data centers is crucial in keeping the connected systems we use everyday functioning and our society moving forward. However, maintaining cool temperatures required in a data center can be a strain on the data center power supply and is also financially draining. LG is able to provide a range of HVAC solutions that can maximize the efficiency in data centers of any size or configuration.
Data Center Solutions
Data center HVAC systems come in many types and sizes including solutions for package, modular and built-up type data centers. Package type data centers are prepared with the necessary components that can be constructed where data center facilities are needed and modular type data centers come in modular units with server racks and air conditioners that form containment aisles in order to isolate the hot air and the cold air. Built-up type data center HVAC solutions are built into the original structures on site and offer unique advantages to data center cooling systems. These days, many data center HVAC solutions also feature a cooling system known as free cooling. Free cooling is an economically efficient method implemented in data centers to channel natural, cold outdoor air into the airflow for cooling within the centers. With ‘fresh-air mode’, ‘combined-air mode’ and ‘circulated-air mode’, this free cooling saves energy and reduces power costs. When outdoor temperatures are between 13-20°C, fresh-air mode engages and the HVAC units are turned off while the cool air from outside is used to cool the data center. Combined-air mode uses a combination of outdoor air and re-circulated air when temperatures drop below 13°C as the outdoor air becomes too cold to circulate through the server racks. Circulated-air mode uses air cooled exclusively by the HVAC units when outdoor temperatures reach over 20°C.
LG’s centrifugal chillers like the ones found in data centers in Busan and Pyeongchon, Korea, are large scale build up type HVAC systems that secure the stability of cooling in data centers. These data centers in Korea are 25,512㎡ and 85,547㎡ respectively and, as with all data centers and server rooms, require constant cooling and environment management. Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is a global standard metric that describes how efficiently data centers utilize energy. The PUE ratio is determined by dividing the amount of energy that enters a data center by the power actually used to run the infrastructure in the facility. While the global PUE average for data centers is 1.7, LG centrifugal chiller systems are able to maintain an impressive 1.4 PUE.
Among the wide range of LG chillers available, LG ice thermal storage chiller solutions can further reduce running costs by taking advantage of less expensive overnight electricity fees and use ice accrued over night in the system to cool the building and lower running costs. These systems reduce the power load in the centers during the day and lower electricity fees while using thermal energy from the ice stored in the system to cool the data centers.
Data centers will continue to be a vital part of society and their role in managing the data that makes our world run is constantly changing. At LG, we are constantly at work developing system that can keep data centers and other diverse spaces cool, comfortable and running strong. The next time you visit your company’s data center or even just pass by it, give some thought to the effort that data center managers and LG are putting in to make it efficient and secure.