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Evaporative Cooling is Best for Large Data Centers, Says LUX

July 9, 2014 By Linda Hardesty

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With 50 watts of cooling required for each 100 watts of server capacity, the demand for cooling equipment, already at $1 billion per year globally, will grow in lockstep with the growth of data centers – rising over 60 percent in the next five years, according to Lux Research. Globally, data centers already use equipment to cool about 50 GW of electricity – 40 percent more than New York City on the hottest day of the year.

The Lux Research report “Blowing Hot Air – Uncovering Opportunities to Cool the World’s Data Centers” found:

  • Evaporative cooling has emerged as the dominant cooling method for data centers greater than 1 MW, with a 10-year total cost of ownership (TCO) of $575/kW. Facebook mainly uses this technology to run some of the world’s most efficient data centers.
  • Computer room air conditioning (CRAC) is best for smaller data centers. In Lux’s TCO analysis, CRAC-Air-cooled technology emerged the best for smaller data centers with TCO ranging between $5,000 and $15,000 for a server capacity of 150 kW/m2, depending on the cost of electricity. Water- and glycol-based cooling technology came second and third, respectively.
  • Climate is no longer king. In the past, data centers were located in cool places, such as Google’s Hamina, Finland site. However, benchmark guidelines for temperatures and relative humidity have risen, and the leading metrics to determine locations are now power usage effectiveness (PUE) and TCO.


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