Research Papers

A Holistic Evaluation of Data Center Water Cooling Total Cost of Ownership

[+] Author and Article Information
Dustin W. Demetriou

Advanced Thermal Energy Efficiency Lab,
IBM Systems,
2455 South Road,
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
e-mail: dwdemetr@us.ibm.com

Vinod Kamath

Cooling Architecture,
Lenovo US,
7001 Development Drive,
Morrisville, NC 27560
e-mail: vkamath1@lenovo.com

Howard Mahaney

Thermal Development,
IBM Systems,
11400 Burnet Road,
Austin, TX 78758
e-mail: mahaney@us.ibm.com

Contributed by the Electronic and Photonic Packaging Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ELECTRONIC PACKAGING. Manuscript received September 25, 2015; final manuscript received January 4, 2016; published online March 10, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Mehdi Asheghi.

J. Electron. Packag 138(1), 010912 (Mar 10, 2016) (11 pages) Paper No: EP-15-1100; doi: 10.1115/1.4032494 History: Received September 25, 2015; Revised January 04, 2016

The generation-to-generation information technology (IT) performance and density demands continue to drive innovation in data center cooling technologies. For many applications, the ability to efficiently deliver cooling via traditional chilled air cooling approaches has become inadequate. Water cooling has been used in data centers for more than 50 years to improve heat dissipation, boost performance, and increase efficiency. While water cooling can undoubtedly have a higher initial capital cost, water cooling can be very cost effective when looking at the true life cycle cost of a water-cooled data center. This study aims at addressing how one should evaluate the true total cost of ownership (TCO) for water-cooled data centers by considering the combined capital and operational cost for both the IT systems and the data center facility. It compares several metrics, including return-on-investment for three cooling technologies: traditional air cooling, rack-level cooling using rear door heat exchangers, and direct water cooling (DWC) via cold plates. The results highlight several important variables, namely, IT power, data center location, site electric utility cost, and construction costs and how each of these influences the TCO of water cooling. The study further looks at implementing water cooling as part of a new data center construction project versus a retrofit or upgrade into an existing data center facility.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME
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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Schematic of (a) IT equipment chassis, (b) hybrid-cooled IT node, and (c) direct water cooled IT node

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Energy analysis results for Denver, CO assuming a 335 W air-cooled node with (a) Greenfield data center design and (b) Brownfield data center design, generated using methodology described in Ref. [14]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Summary of TCO metrics for Denver, CO, assuming $0.12/kWh for electricity, 0.0% energy escalation, 335 W air-cooled node, and 5× DWC IT cooling hardware cost

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Impact of electricity cost on project payback assuming Denver, CO, 0.0% energy escalation, 335 W air-cooled node, and 5 × DWC IT cooling hardware cost

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Impact of water cooling hardware cost on project payback assuming Denver, CO, $0.12/kWh electricity cost, 0.0% energy escalation, and a 335 W air-cooled node. This includes the cost of cold plates, hoses, manifolds, and quick disconnects.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Impact of node power consumption on project payback assuming Denver, CO, $0.12/kWh electricity cost, 0.0% energy escalation, and 5 × DWC IT cooling hardware cost

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Impact of location on the 5-year NPV assuming location-specific electricity cost and escalation rates, 335 W air-cooled node, and 5 × DWC hardware cost



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