Data usage is exploding. According to a forecast by IDC Worldwide, global data usage is on track to grow from 59 zettabytes in 2020 to 175 zettabytes in 2025, or a 24% compound annual growth rate. That's an enormous amount of data. For perspective, it requires one billion one-terabyte hard drives (each roughly equivalent to eight 128-gigabyte iPhones) to store one zettabyte of data.
The most economical way to store all this data is in large data centers, though they aren't cheap to operate because they require a lot of energy to keep the storage equipment operating and cool. That's why a group of companies in the data center field are partnering to bring awareness to liquid immersion cooling.
This approach has several advantages over the current industry-standard cooling methods. Here's a closer look at what data center investors should know about this technology.
Bringing awareness to an alternative cooling method
Data centers use a lot of power. Servers, storage, and networking equipment need electricity to operate. Further, this hardware generates a lot of heat, requiring data centers to provide a regulated temperature to prevent them from overheating and causing a fire.
Data centers use many cooling methods, including air conditioning systems that cool the air with water or a refrigerant or evaporative cooling systems, which evaporate water to cool the air. The former option costs more because it uses a lot of electricity. And while the latter is cheaper because water is less expensive, the system uses a lot of water, which is a problem in dry regions.
Another method is liquid immersion cooling technology, which involves the immersion of servers into a cooling rack filled with a coolant. This method absorbs heat from the servers and removes it from the rack. As a result, it increases a data center's energy efficiency, which reduces its operating costs.
Green Revolution Cooling, a single-phase liquid immersion cooling leader, is partnering with several companies in the data center sector -- including Dell, Intel, Presa, Vertiv, and Mission Critical magazine -- for the first annual Liquid Immersion Cooling Awareness Month this August. They aim to increase awareness of this technology in the data center community, which could accelerate its adoption.
Building a better data center
Green Revolution Cooling is one of several companies working to commercialize liquid immersion cooling technology. Another notable name working on this technology is Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT). The tech giant developed an in-house liquid that boils at a lower temperature than water, allowing it to reduce the temperature inside the server.
The cooler temperature enables the server to operate at full power without overheating. Overall, Microsoft was able to reduce the power consumption of its servers by 5% to 15%. In addition to power savings, liquid immersion cooling technology has other benefits.
For instance, it reduces water usage and spacing requirements because data centers no longer need air conditioning units and require less backup-generator capacity. Because of that, it can be cheaper to build and operate new data centers using this technology. And these cost savings and other benefits can make the investment to upgrade existing data centers to this system pay off in the long run.
Liquid immersion cooling can solve several problems for data center operators. It can reduce their energy usage, which is significant since data centers consume 10 to 50 times the energy per floor space of a typical commercial office building. It can also aid in conserving water, which could help data center developers solve a big problem as the sector expands into dryer regions like Phoenix. That will make these facilities more environmentally friendly while reducing costs.
Keep an eye on the emerging immersion trend
Liquid immersion cooling can help data centers reduce costs by lowering their electricity and water usage. That would benefit data center investors by improving returns. And that's why they should keep an eye on the awareness campaign the industry is running in August to see whether it leads to an uptick in the adoption of the technology by data center operators.