Forward thinking design at work

Feb 19, 2024

The role of Direct Liquid Cooling (DLC) in supporting today’s modern, sustainable data center.
A guest blog by Luc Wagemakers, EMEA Area Manager for CoolIT

Whenever our CEO Eyjólfur Magnús Kristinsson is being interviewed about atNorth and our incredible journey, he is always mindful to mention that we wouldn’t be where we are today without our great partners. An excellent example of this is our longstanding partnership with CoolIT Systems – a partnership that has been recognized across the industry for the continued success in helping businesses reduce their carbon footprint, without sacrificing HPC density, performance, or efficiency.

CoolIT has been a leading supplier of direct liquid cooling solutions for over 23 years for HPC, cloud and enterprise markets worldwide and enables atNorth to provide direct liquid cooling solutions to its customers. With digitalization showing no signs of slowing, the demands on data centers will continue to intensify. This, together with the growing need for more and more compute, has pushed cooling in the data center to the foreground. 

In this guest blog, we give the floor to Luc Wagemakers, EMEA Area Manager for CoolIT, where he discusses our partnership and how critical it has been to drive sustainable IT practices within our business, data center operations, and the industry as a whole.

As digitalization and sustainability become more intrinsically linked, the data center footprint is becoming more crucial. From the advent of tools like ChatGPT and generative AI to online streaming and weather simulation, the need for storing, processing, and analyzing data is vital to everyday society and business. 

The increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) alone is fueling an aggressive need for data center capacity that is hard for everyone in the marketplace to keep pace with. While there are many contributing factors, for one, our partnership with atNorth is helping unearth the trends and key drivers to creating more innovative sustainable processes within the modern data center. 

One important factor to consider is the foundation on which the data center is built and how it is powered. As computing becomes more powerful, components within the data centers start to generate more heat, which can lead to decreased performance and even hardware failure, as well as sustainability and efficiency challenges. This is why it’s becoming even more critical to design and build sustainable data center sites with energy efficient cooling systems. atNorth’s data center facilities are designed specifically for high-density workloads with state-of-the-art systems, and as such they are better equipped to facilitate direct liquid cooling technology. 

While many data center operators want to utilize heat reuse, not everyone can. To explain why, I reference the example of atNorth’s SWE01 data center in Stockholm, which has been designed with our Direct Liquid Cooling (DLC) solution at the heart of its primary cooling system. This is no ordinary facility – a responsibly built, future-proofed infrastructure, it has been uniquely designed to maximize heat recovery. This means the site can capture the heat produced within the data halls, then recycle it through Stockholm Exergi’s district heating plant to provide heat and hot water for local residents.

DLC technology uses warm water (versus cold air) to dissipate the heat from computer and server components. As the name suggests, our tech captures heat in its liquid path, whereby the water is heated inside the server and connected directly to atNorth’s core cooling system. This effectively eliminates the need for chillers and air conditioning units, which are a massive drain on electricity, and brings huge benefits, such as: 

  1. Significantly improving performance and reliability, offering higher density and performance with decreased operating expenses
  2. Cooling the IT load more efficiently, aiding the heat reuse process, reducing overall power usage, and supporting a circular economy
  3. Boosting energy efficiency and supporting sustainability initiatives for customers with a scalable approach to high-density computing and reduced environmental footprint.

Various estimates have suggested that data centers could account for 8% of the global electricity consumption by 2030, which leads me to believe that any technology that can support energy efficiency, reduce power usage, and rely on cleaner sources will be increasingly sought after. DLC technology has proven to do exactly this. A PUE high-density cooling analysis by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) studied the gradual transition from total air cooling to partial cooling using 25% air and 75% liquid cooling. The study found the 75% liquid cooling case yielded a 27% lower consumption in facility power and 15.5% lower usage in the whole data center site.

When we look to the future, it is promising to see that sustainability truly is achievable through innovative solutions like DLC. It is inspiring to work with partners like atNorth who share a similar vision as ours – to continue to pave the way to a future that promotes sustainable development and fosters a healthier planet for generation after generation.“

Learn more about DLC technology in our Customer Case Study — CoolIT Systems

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