The data center industry continues to drive innovation, and the forward-thinking providers will embrace new technologies to meet the complex requirements of their customers. One trend that is heating up is liquid cooling. It was estimated that the market size for liquid-based cooling techniques will grow from $1.5B in 2020 to $6.5B in 2027. These deployments signify that high-density racks are a trend that’s here to stay. In 2020, about 29 percent of data centers reported an average density of 10 kW or higher, but by 2025 some anticipate a density of 15 to 20 kW per rack will be the norm.
What dynamics are driving rack density increases?
There is a blend of new and emerging use cases forcing higher power requirements, and as such, colocation, hyperscale, and edge data centers now need to deliver non-traditional solutions. The rise of high-performance computing use cases includes:
- New, high-powered technologies used in advanced modeling, data analysis and research performed by government, military, scientific, and academic organizations.
- Complex, real-time transactional workloads to support business intelligence reporting and operational processing.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning applications that require significant processing and memory capabilities.
- Increases in consumer demand for high-definition videos, augmented/virtual realities, and gaming.
- New and edgy applications, like blockchain and cryptocurrency.
- The expansion of 5G networks, where organizations leverage mobile devices and IoT connections in ways that are impossible to predict.
But there are more than just the technical reasons pushing toward high-density environments. IT departments recognize these environments have a smaller footprint and are more cost-efficient. In addition, the installations are faster, the setup is more scalable, and the CapEx buildout costs are cut in half. So, with all that driving up the number of higher density deployments, how do you keep it cool?
Conventional cooling methods only handle around 4kW per rack, and even advanced air cooling systems lose efficiency when racks hit the 10 to 15kW range. While many exciting new cooling technologies are on the horizon, the consensus is that it’s liquid cooling’s time to shine.