Why Immersion Cooling Is Disrupting Traditional Cooling Systems

As adoption ramps up, immersion cooling will continue to disrupt traditional cooling systems, offering unique gains in OpEx costs, IT energy consumption and reliability.

In data center facilities, cooling infrastructure accounts for the majority of OpEx costs and roughly half of total energy consumption. As more data is created, collected, and stored for processing, rack densities continue to rise and server loads become more demanding.

Next-generation facilities need to think beyond just tweaking current setups—they’ll need to reanalyze cooling from the ground up. 

As servers are tasked with storing and managing more and more data, they reach their heat rejection thresholds faster than ever. Coincidentally, emerging technologies like AI and IoT are creating massive datasets, putting immense pressure on cooling systems tasked with maintaining these compute loads. As a result, high-density data centers need an alternative approach to infrastructure cooling that not only lowers energy spend, but also aids in cutting energy consumption for cooling and lowering overhead costs.

While there are many cooling systems in the industry today, immersion cooling continues to disrupt the market providing unique advantages for high-density compute, storage and processing requirements. By submerging IT equipment in clean dielectric liquids, heat is constantly removed from the source keeping the hardware at a steady and regulated temperature.  Immersion based systems eliminate the need for traditional air-cooled chillers often utilizing evaporative cooling solutions that require less power to operate.    

Whether it’s single-phase or two-phase immersion, both cooling methods boast impressive stats and advantages compared to traditional air-cooled high-performance systems. Immersion cooling has become a leading technology among high-performance compute data center facilities and is set to be worth almost $21 billion by 2025. As adoption continues to ramp up and the market increases exponentially, we expect immersion cooling to continue disrupting traditional cooling systems in many ways.  

1.  Cost

Traditionally, air-based cooling requires consistent, non-stop cooling power generated from large units, like heat condensers and HVAC systems, in addition to the baseline infrastructure needed to physically store data. As facilities deploy more and more equipment, electricity usage and energy consumption skyrockets, driving OpEx costs and power bills up. Not only that, but as a facility’s energy consumption increases, so does its power usage effectiveness (PUE), a number used to gauge the energy efficiency of a data center. Ideally, an energy-efficient data center will operate with a PUE between 1.8 and 2.4–a range that is nearly unattainable for data centers with traditional cooling systems. With cooling tanks and closed-loop systems, less hardware is required for day-to-day operations, reducing energy needs and operational costs exponentially (not to mention streamlining maintenance needs).

2.  Environmental Impact

Worldwide, the data center industry leaves a massive carbon footprint, consuming almost 5% of global electricity. As a result, many data centers have taken the lead to implement sustainable, energy-efficient processes. With immersion cooling, energy consumption is reduced by nearly 80% while carbon emissions are lowered by almost three tons per KW each year. Not only is energy consumption drastically decreased, but facilities are better equipped to reach an exemplary PUE, consistently staying under 1.3. Adversely, legacy facilities operating with outdated cooling processes struggle to maintain a satisfactory PUE and small carbon footprint, contributing to the industry’s substantial electricity consumption and carbon emissions.   

3.  Reliability 

One of the greatest threats of data centers and their customers is system and network downtime. With a loss of almost $9,000 per minute of downtime, it’s vital that data centers remove as much risk as possible from their infrastructure environment. Out of the most common causes of system failures, temperature accounts for 55%. By housing IT equipment in cooling tanks, each device is constantly protected from high temperatures, humidity and harmful dust particles. With unmatched equipment reliability, immersion cooling offers a 100% redundancy with increased gains in efficiency–offering data center facilities and their customers a strong ROI. 

Immersion cooling is leading the conversation as an environmentally-conscious, disruptive technology that allows modern data centers to streamline processes while reducing energy consumption and overall OpEx costs. 

As IoT applications, 5G and artificial intelligence continue to make waves in the data center industry, our Skybox team is prepared to help our customers securely store, cool and manage data. To learn more about our solutions or to request pricing information, contact Skybox Datacenters today!