In the dynamic realm of data centre cooling, the CTO of Data Centre Dynamics, Steven Warren, leads a panel discussion featuring industry experts on the Vertiv platform. This is part four of a four-part article.

How do we drive industry collaboration and standardisation? Image supplied by Markus Spisko/Unsplash

How do we drive industry collaboration and standardisation? Image supplied by Markus Spisko/Unsplash

The focus of this discourse is on an innovative approach to cooling – direct chip cooling – and whether it is emerging as the front-runner in the data centre cooling landscape.

The panel includes Ali Heydari, data centre technologist at Nvidia; Devdatta Kulkarni, principal thermo architect for Intel Corp.; Tim Shedd, engineering technologist at Dell; and Rob Curtis, a prominent figure in the industry.

… continued from part three.

Collaboration and standardisation

How do we drive industry collaboration and standardisation? Because this is a key component for the successful adoption of liquid cooling.

Shedd emphasises the practicality of addressing liquid cooling as a physics problem, especially in new data centre builds. He suggests installing water plumbing from the start, considering it a low-hanging fruit for future liquid cooling needs.

Heydari agrees, highlighting the need for a smooth transition from air to liquid cooling, projecting a limited timeline for single-phase liquid cooling dominance. He encourages an industrial transition perspective, focusing on the road ahead and planning for at least five to seven years, considering factors like fluid choice (e.g., digit 25, propylene glycol), and envisioning the progression from single-phase to directed chip with heat removal. He emphasises minimising disruption during this transition, advocating for a one-time disruption that is backward-compatible for future advancements.

Both speakers underscore the importance of anticipating future needs, understanding the technology roadmap, and seeking centralised liquid cooling solutions. Shedd emphasises the industry’s role in enabling and sustaining liquid cooling, not just for power management but to facilitate computational innovation and improve global quality of life. They emphasise:

  • Engaging with the community and leverage the wealth of knowledge available in webinars and panel discussions.
  • Acknowledging that liquid cooling is crucial, not just as a concept, but with a focus on ample water availability. Start by initiating proof-of-concepts in a data centre to gain hands-on experience and elevate ones understanding of the technologies and challenges.
  • Address any hydrophobia concerns, highlighting that overcoming the resistance to water in data centres is essential. Instead of fixating on the next big thing, focus on understanding your needs and familiarising yourself with various technologies. If, for instance, immersion is a concern, explore design excellence centres like those offered by Intel to learn about different cooling solutions.
  • Prepare for the transition by realising that bringing in new technologies takes time and involves extensive adjustments to data centre infrastructure.
  • Plan for the long term, ensuring that the chosen cooling solution aligns with the semiconductor industry’s roadmap, offering optimal ROI for the next decade.

Curtis of Dell emphasises the importance of doing thorough homework before transitioning:

  • Understanding current and future deployment needs
  • Ensuring compatibility with solutions that support evolving requirements
  • Considering the intricacies of temperature deltas across different solutions, recognising that facility water requirements can vary significantly

He suggests a phased transition approach, potentially starting with liquid to air for short-term benefits, then moving to liquid cooling with facility water integration. Simplify the process by focusing on temperature differentials within the system, understanding that certain technologies may offer advantages over others.

Gore stresses the significance of enabling liquid cooling in the facility, particularly with the rising power density and decreasing case temperatures in server components. He echoes Heydari’s mention of 100 watts per square centimetre power density, emphasising the precision required for effective cooling. Liquid cooling encompasses various technologies, and he advises close collaboration with IT infrastructure vendors, understanding roadmaps, and working with data centre infrastructure partners to ensure seamless support for emerging technologies.

The host, Warren, offered a big “thank you” to all the experts, noting their expertise is a valuable resource.