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Analysis of Airflow Distribution Across a Front-to-Rear Server Rack

[+] Author Affiliations
Amir Radmehr, Kailash C. Karki, Suhas V. Patankar

Innovative Research, Inc., Plymouth, MN

Paper No. IPACK2007-33574, pp. 837-843; 7 pages
  • ASME 2007 InterPACK Conference collocated with the ASME/JSME 2007 Thermal Engineering Heat Transfer Summer Conference
  • ASME 2007 InterPACK Conference, Volume 1
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 8–12, 2007
  • Conference Sponsors: Electronic and Photonic Packaging Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4277-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3801-3
  • Copyright © 2007 by ASME


The most common server racks in data centers are front-to-rear racks, which draw in the cooling air from the front side and discharge it from the backside. In a raised-floor data center the cooling air to these racks is provided by perforated tiles that are placed in front of them. In a high-density data center, these tiles discharge a considerable amount of airflow, which leads to a high-velocity vertical jet in front of the rack. Such a high-velocity jet may bypass the servers located at the bottom of the rack leading to their airflow starvation and potential failure. In this paper the effect of the high-velocity jet on the airflow taken by servers at various heights in the rack is studied. A computer model based on the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) technique is used to predict the airflow distribution through servers stacked in the rack. Two cases are considered. In one case, the rack is placed in the middle of a row of racks in a prefect hot aisle-cold aisle arrangement. The boundary conditions around such a rack is symmetrical. In the other case, the rack is placed in a room with asymmetrical boundary conditions. The characteristics of the servers in the rack are taken from typical 1U and 2U servers manufactured by IBM. It is shown that in general the high-velocity jet has a mild effect on the airflow taken by the servers, and the airflow reduction is limited to servers at the bottom of the rack. Racks in a symmetrical configuration are more susceptible to the airflow starvation. In the most critical conditions, an airflow reduction of 15% is calculated for the server located at the bottom of the rack. Using the result obtained from the computational analysis, a simple model is developed to predict the reduction of the cooling air under the most critical situation for the server placed at the bottom of the rack.

Copyright © 2007 by ASME



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