data racks in a HPC data center

High Performance Computing (or HPC) is at the heart of many major scientific and technological breakthroughs. The ability to process quadrillions of calculations per second enables groundbreaking discoveries to be made that benefit people around the world. A well-known example of HPC is a supercomputer, which networks together thousands of nodes to complete tasks, forming a powerful data center. As the uses for High Performance Computing continue to grow and expand, the cooling requirements for these systems also have to adapt to keep up.

Effective cooling infrastructure is essential to the running of [high performance computer] data centers, as HPC technology gives off very high levels of heat that could damage equipment and cause a fire hazard or an unsafe working environment if not kept sufficiently cool. There are many factors that can influence choosing a cooling solution for an HPC facility, such as energy consumption, cost and existing infrastructure. Liquid cooling is the current most popular choice for HPC data center cooling as water has better thermal conductivity than air and is more efficient at extracting heat. Cool water is sent through a closed system running along the computing equipment, extracting heat as it goes. With sustainability in mind, many data centers are beginning to use the hot water by-product to provide hot water within the data center facility as a way of being more energy efficient and less wasteful. Air cooling is a simpler and cheaper option, utilising fans that remove hot air from the hot components, and this method is most effective coupled with aisle containment to isolate the hot air and cold air sections of the data center. However, this method is generally considered inefficient for HPC data centers as the increase in demand for HPC technology has led to higher levels of heat being produced and air cooling consumes too much energy to keep up with this demand.

Immersion cooling is a slightly newer solution, where hardware is directly immersed in a non-conductive cooling liquid that very efficiently removes heat from the source. However, not many HPC data centers have the available infrastructure or the ability to maintain liquid immersion cooling solutions, as liquid immersion can make accessing the technology for maintenance difficult. Rear door heat exchangers offer a combination of air and water cooling that is becoming increasingly popular for HPC facilities. These devices are fitted directly onto the server racks, cooling the equipment at the source, with the RDHX using cold water to extract the heat and fans to supply cold air directly onto the hot components. The most effective solution may differ between data centers, but cooling efficiency versus energy consumption is the biggest deciding factor.

HPC data centers are a powerful technology that requires powerful cooling to match. USystems and ColdLogik aim to create and offer future-proof data center cooling solutions that provide powerful and efficient cooling with a minimal environmental impact. We provide rear door coolers and in-row coolers as well as racks, frames and aisle containment solutions so you can find the ideal cooling system for your high performance computing data center.

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