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Modeling complex data centers on a laptop

Courtesy of Degree Controls, Inc.

In a head-to-head comparison CoolitDC, the powerful CFD software from Daat Research Corp., has trumped major competitors in the data center arena. An analysis performed by Degree Controls Inc., Milford, NH, on two data center applications with different thermal challenges, revealed that CoolitDC offers distinct advantages in handling complex problems accurately and with a minimum of computing resources.

The first application involved a customer who supplies software, support and enterprise solutions to higher education institutions. The company's data center was overheating because hot air was getting trapped between the racks, preventing it from returning to the air conditioners. Instead, it was circulating back toward the input and mixing with the incoming cold air. Since the data center had not been designed to accommodate a hot/cold aisle, it was not practical to create one because employees had to work in and move about the room.

The second application occurred at a co-location company providing wholesale data centers, co-location and peering for financial, media and entertainment, healthcare, government and other industries. In this case, the data center wasn't over heating; it was experiencing excessive cooling. This proved costly because local energy costs were high. The problem couldn't be solved by randomly shutting off air conditioners because that would have impacted air flow drastically. Instead, the room had to be thermally modeled to assess various solution combinations involving shutting off a/c units, closing tiles and erecting panels between servers. With a problem this complex, 50 or more thermal iterations typically are required to zero-in on the most cost-effective solution.

When CoolitDC was used to model the two applications, several distinct advantages were observed. CoolitDC can tackle the most difficult problems involving the complex custom devices often required in data centers, while Tileflow cannot. Also, Tileflow uses modeling approximations to speed up computations, but at the expense of accuracy. CoolitDC, on the other hand, does not take any modeling shortcuts. When compared to 6Sigma, CoolitDC requires significantly less computing resources and calculates answers much faster, making it an ideal choice for applications requiring numerous iterations, such as the co-location company mentioned above.

"In the past if we had a complex model, we used 6Sigma which required large servers and significant time," comments Degree Controls engineer, Feroze Khan. "I solved the same problem using CoolitDC on my laptop and it was more than 10 times faster." In addition, CoolitDC matched even the most expensive competitor's accuracy, and it proved easy-to-learn for engineers who had no training in the product.

Color-coded fog and streamrods show the data center airflow and temperature. The suspended ceiling and some partitions and walls are shown in wireframe or hidden to display the inside of the room. Cold air is pushed from CRAC units into the ducts above the ceiling and then down into the data center.
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This figure shows the complex underfloor space filled with pipes, ducts and structural elements. HT510 HotSpotr floor systems consisting of a matrix of fans in an aluminum enclosure are visible throughout the floor.
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