Schneider Electric releases White Paper on capital cost comparison of data centre liquid cooling vs traditional air cooling

Schneider Electric has announced a new White Paper #282, “Capital Cost Analysis of Immersive Liquid-Cooled vs. Air-Cooled Large Data Centres”, available for immediate download via the Schneider Electric website.

The paper provides a detailed comparison of the capital costs of a 2MW data centre using traditional air-cooling, versus a second utilising racks where each server chassis is partially filled with a dielectric fluid. This new architecture is called chassis-based immersion. 

Overall, the cost analysis showed that the capital expenditure (CapEx) of each approach is comparable at similar power densities of 10kW/rack. However, applications utilising greater compaction and higher power densities of up to 40kW per rack, possible only with liquid cooling, resulted in far greater cost savings. At 20kW/rack the space savings result in an overall reduction of 10%, whereas at 40kW/rack the CapEx savings are 14%. 

“From an environmental perspective, liquid cooling provides significant sustainability benefits by reducing the water and energy consumption of data centres”, said Robert Bunger, Liquid Cooling Program Director, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric. “Other benefits include increased power densities, reduced footprint and noise pollution, lower capital costs and improved reliability. For customers in the edge computing, telco and Hyperscale spaces, this technology presents real promise. I believe it will continue to exceed our expectations with future developments.”

Liquid cooling enables greater savings

Focusing exclusively on capital costs, rather than a total cost of ownership (TCO) comparison, the paper examines how additional investment into the infrastructure for an immersive liquid-cooling deployment are offset by the removal of air-cooling components. This includes chillers, containment systems and computer room air handlers (CRAHs), which represent a considerable cost saving for owners and operators. 

By reducing the air-cooling equipment, power components including uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and switchgear can also be removed, contributing further to the associated space saving. 

In late 2019, Schneider Electric announced the data centre industry’s first commercially available, integrated rack with immersed, Liquid-Cooled IT, in partnership with Iceotope and Avnet. Chassis-based immersive cooling is an emerging technology, however, the cost savings calculated within Schneider Electric White Paper #282 are representative of a near-term deployment at scale. Additional savings can be expected as future technology and manufacturing efficiencies improve.

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