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An Investigation Into Cooling System Control Strategies for Data Center Airflow Containment Architectures

[+] Author Affiliations
Michael K. Patterson

Intel, Dupont, WA

Rainer Weidmann, Manuel Mair

T-Systems International GmbH, Munich, Germany

Markus Leberecht

Intel GmbH, Feldkirchen, Germany

Richard M. Libby

Intel, Hillsboro, OR

Paper No. IPACK2011-52090, pp. 479-488; 10 pages
  • ASME 2011 Pacific Rim Technical Conference and Exhibition on Packaging and Integration of Electronic and Photonic Systems
  • ASME 2011 Pacific Rim Technical Conference and Exhibition on Packaging and Integration of Electronic and Photonic Systems, MEMS and NEMS: Volume 2
  • Portland, Oregon, USA, July 6–8, 2011
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4462-5
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


Data Center efficiency is critical to successful operation of today’s large IT installations. The reduction of infrastructure energy use will allow an increase in IT carrying capacity and / or a reduction in operating costs. The cooling portion of the data center Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) can represent a significant cost and energy burden to the data center. The use of containment hardware (hot aisle, chimney, or cold aisle containment) is a good step in reducing the Data Center PUE; however the specifics of the implementation remains a challenge and some legacy controls strategies limit the efficacy of their use. The most typical control scheme in today’s data center is the return airflow temperature modulating a linked supply temperature and airflow. This control scheme is unsuitable for an advanced data center and limits the efficiency that can be gained with the containment strategy. But the optimal control scheme for a containment strategy remains a matter of discussion and debate. This paper reports on testing performed at our collaborative data center test lab facility in Munich, Germany where we have explored three different control designs for a containment strategy. The primary goal for energy savings in a containment strategy is to provide just enough cool air to the servers such that the server fans are satisfied without causing any recirculation to occur from the hot side of the containment. We investigated control based on temperature, pressure, and velocity measurements. The specifics of each are discussed as well as recommendations for choosing the appropriate controls. Practical considerations as well as system implementation recommendations are also shared. Each strategy can be made to work but the pressure control scenario provided the best level of control.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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