W H I T E P A P E R. Computational Fluid Dynamics Modeling for Operational Data Centers

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1 W H I T E P A P E R Computational Fluid Dynamics Modeling for Operational Data Centers

2 2 Executive Summary Improving Effectiveness of CFD Technology in Cooling of Data Centers IT managers continue to be challenged by increased demand on the data center to support business strategies. From an operational perspective, this means more servers and other hardware are often required to deliver additional computing capacity and bandwidth for growth. Whereas some facilities can absorb the new technology from a physical space standpoint, the existing cooling infrastructure may not be suitable or efficient, which is driving a number of infrastructure upgrade projects. In each case, those involved in facility and data center planning must integrate design and operational priorities to ensure the long-term viability of their facilities. For many IT managers, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling provides a more scientific and comprehensive design approach to power and cooling management. CFD technology can be applied to create a better understanding of why hot spots are present and illustrate the effects of equipment layout, location of cooling units, drop ceiling, hot- or cold-aisle containment or under-floor obstructions on airflow and temperature distributions in the data center. However, despite the advantages of CFD modeling techniques, many data center managers have been unable to efficiently run CFD analysis on an operational data center, because maintaining an accurate inventory of equipment demands tremendous effort. Gathering the necessary data to implement CFD can be a substantial undertaking, and companies that do not have a comprehensive infrastructure resource management system often struggle to pull together the amount of relational detail needed for the CFD tool to deliver a complete analysis. A new software integration promises to make it easier and more beneficial to perform CFD analysis on operational data centers. Implementing Aperture VISTA, from Emerson Network Power, and TileFlow, from Innovative Research, Inc. in CFD modeling processes can help data center managers gain significant efficiencies and extend the life of their data center. For example, this software integration would enable data center mangers to accurately depict and understand the use of cooling resources and allow for appropriate infrastructure right-sizing. This could significantly help prevent organizations from under- or over-provisioning the infrastructure. Instead of buying cooling equipment they do not need, they might discover that they can simply reposition what they have.

3 3 Situational Overview The Importance of Cost-Efficient Cooling in Data Centers Because computer servers, telecommunications equipment and storage systems housed in data centers dissipate an enormous amount of heat and the equipment must be maintained at acceptable temperatures to assure reliable operation IT and facility managers are very familiar with the need to properly cool their data centers to prevent equipment failure due to overheating. However, in many cases facility cooling infrastructure suffers from inefficient operation, which leads to decreased energy efficiency and over-provisioning of cooling equipment. That inefficiency can result from several different factors. For example, the cooling airflow is not distributed according to the demands of the equipment, or the discharged hot air is not properly contained or vented. Part of the problem is that heat load can vary significantly across a computer room, and it changes with every addition or reconfiguration of hardware. Therefore, just meeting the total cooling capacity or average airflow requirement isn t enough to provide optimal cooling where it s needed. With continuing increases of heat generation in data centers, plus dramatically rising energy costs, managers are coming under greater pressure to improve the efficiency of cooling systems and reduce power consumption. Studies from organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) point out that energy efficiency will continue to be a primary objective for IT personnel. An August 2007 EPA report projected that energy consumption for U.S. data centers will double by That increase would translate to an estimated cost to the public and private sectors of approximately $7.4 billion annually. While the EPA report does not recommend specific directives for enhancing efficiency, it offers guidelines. In Figure 1.0, the tasks described in each scenario have a direct impact on the bottom line. By simply improving operations, the EPA predicts a 30 percent improvement in infrastructure energy efficiency. Simple configuration changes are the foundation for future improvements. Figure 1.0: Three-tiered chart of suggestions for enhancing data center infrastructure energy efficiency. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

4 4 The need for smarter energy utilization is clearly growing and most companies are making changes. In a 2008 data center energy efficiency survey, Cassatt interviewed 215 IT professionals from companies supporting between 500 and 5,000 servers. The majority of those surveyed reported that their organizations are planning to reduce energy costs by consolidating servers or modifying their physical infrastructure equipment (see Figure 2.0). Energy- Efficiency Strategy All Companies Server consolidation 69.0% More power efficient servers 50.8% Storage consolidation/virtualization 47.7% Consolidate data centers 34.5% Improve data center cooling 32.5% Server power-management software 23.9% Thin-client systems 21.8% Simplifying data center cabling 21.8% PC shutdown software 18.3% Upgrade server power supplies 9.6% Figure 2.0: Energy efficiency strategies used by companies supporting between 500 and 5,000 servers. Source: Cassatt It s important to understand that the decision to consolidate servers can often come with unexpected consequences. Companies often install smaller, high-density equipment with more processing power without acknowledging that the heat output of this new equipment is significant. The smaller equipment will also free up rack space to add more hardware into the existing infrastructure further increasing power (consumption) densities, energy use and cooling requirements. Consolidating and reconfiguring existing servers is only part of the EPA s scenario to improve operations. The second key component is optimizing placement of the equipment. The EPA notes that by improving airflow, along with server consolidation, companies can improve efficiency up to 30 percent. Each of the top four data center initiatives (shown in Figure 2.0) will not yield satisfactory results unless the infrastructure layout is optimized at the same time. As shown in Figure 3.0, heat densities of data center equipment that will be used in consolidation projects will continue to rise, making it increasingly important to plan equipment placement at the time of procurement.

5 5 Figure 3.0: Past and projected heat loads of IT technologies. Source: Uptime Institute Seeking Practical Solutions It s currently estimated that, on average, four to seven percent of IT budgets are dedicated to energy costs. This percentage will inevitably rise. Some industry professionals believe that government mandates will soon force facilities operators to reduce energy consumption. Many companies are already evaluating and/or implementing alternative solutions to reduce their energy use and make data center cooling processes more efficient. According to ASHRAE thermal guidelines, 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit is the acceptable inlet air temperature range for Class I servers. Depending on the facility and amount of equipment, there are many basic methods for improving the cooling performance of data centers, such as using hot-aisle/cold-aisle arrangements, closing cable cutouts and other openings to minimize air leakage and adding exhaust ducts over racks. Since each data center is unique in terms of design, space, budget and flexibility, one needs to examine the various methods carefully. The complexity of the problem and lack of detailed data will leave the door open for efficiency stakeholders to determine their respective courses of action. Each IT manager must carefully assess his or her current environment and business objectives before implementing a strategy, but that assessment can be difficult. Without a well-defined deployment plan, understanding where to place the equipment to maximize airflow in an operational data center is typically done through trial and error or empirical guidelines based on limited measurements. These methods often do not consider the complex fluid dynamics that govern air flow distribution, and consequently do not produce the expected flow rates. An adjustment in one section of the data center will affect flow rates throughout the other areas. This kind of design procedure is labor-intensive, time-consuming and expensive and still seldom yields an optimal, efficient solution. How CFD Modeling Can Help For many IT and facility managers, CFD modeling offers a more scientific and comprehensive design approach to power and cooling management. It provides a weather map view of the data center, identifying hot spots and air flow requirements in the existing configurations, while also analyzing needs in any proposed modifications. CFD is an integral part of computer-aided engineering and is used in a variety of industries to study the dynamics of things that flow, such as air and liquids. In the data center, CFD can be applied to create a better understanding of

6 6 why hot spots are present and illustrate the effects of various factors on airflow and temperature distribution. A CFD software tool visually depicts heat-related risks in the data center that can interfere with facility performance. CFD factors all aspects of the floor layout and the equipment, and then creates three-dimensional renderings based on actual or projected devices which consider the complex processes controlling the airflow rate distribution. That information allows engineers to evaluate several design options in a minimal amount of time and quickly explore what if? scenarios in search of optimal equipment placement. In case after case, it has been shown that airflow modeling based on CFD can be effectively used to identify and resolve cooling problems in data centers. By using airflow modeling, the cooling performance of existing data centers can be improved; in addition, new data centers can be designed to provide better cooling efficiency and lower energy consumption. After a build is complete, IT managers will also have an operational baseline and can conduct periodic updates as the environment changes. CFD modeling for new data centers has a positive impact on the overall cost and outcome; however, in those cases, design engineers are working from a clean slate. In an operational data center, where obstacles abound, CFD modeling can be more challenging. Even though they provide a more challenging environment, operational data centers often can benefit more from CFD modeling because IT managers must reconfigure their existing environment to improve current efficiency levels. They may have a limited capital budget (or none at all) and need to carefully consider the purchase and placement of new/legacy equipment. When choosing the appropriate CFD tool, IT managers should seek a company with specific knowledge of data centers and appropriate products to serve them. One such company is Innovative Research, Inc. (IRI), which has developed TileFlow, a specialized and customizable CFD modeling tool that calculates airflow patterns and temperature distribution in data centers. How TileFlow Works The leading airflow simulation tool for data centers, TileFlow offers a unique scientific approach for meeting facility cooling challenges. TileFlow performs calculations of airflow patterns and temperature distribution in a data center and then creates a computer simulation of the cooling performance within the facility. TileFlow features an intuitive user interface and graphical/table reporting that can be used when designing or optimizing a data center s layout, either while designing a new facility or upgrading an existing one. TileFlow calculates: Airflow pattern and pressure distribution under the raised floor for raised floor data centers Distribution of airflow rates through perforated tiles and other openings on the raised floor for raised floor data centers Airflow pattern and temperature distribution in the room for both raised floor and non-raised floor data centers Figure 4.0 shows examples of 3-D renderings available to IT managers to improve air flow and identify real or potential hot spots.

7 7 Figure 4.0: Data center airflow modeled in TileFlow. Enhancing the Value of CFD and TileFlow with Aperture VISTA Despite the advantages of CFD, many data center managers are unable to efficiently run CFD analysis on an operational data center, because maintaining an accurate inventory of equipment demands tremendous effort. Gathering the necessary data to implement CFD can be a serious undertaking, and companies that lack a comprehensive infrastructure resource management system struggle to pull together the amount of relational detail needed for the CFD tool to deliver a complete analysis. Gathering relational data from disparate systems is difficult; and one small mistake or omission casts doubt on the final results. The time and resources required to gather this information are substantial, and therefore diminish the return on investment and total cost of ownership. Those concerns and expenses can be eliminated through the application of VISTA software from Aperture, the leading global provider of software for managing the physical infrastructure of data centers. VISTA is a comprehensive resource management and monitoring system that houses data center configuration and operating information, including racks, servers and power and cooling equipment. Because VISTA always has an accurate map of a data center and the placement and configuration of its contents, any information pertaining to the facility s equipment can be accessed with the push of a button or a single click of a mouse. By using a newly developed integration, the infrastructure data stored in VISTA can be seamlessly imported into the TileFlow simulation tool. With VISTA s ability to continually maintain the location and configuration of equipment and the program s convenient standard export system users can easily and quickly generate detailed CFD analyses to identify cooling problems in operational data centers. Once TileFlow creates a computer simulation of the temperature distribution and cooling performance within a facility, Aperture s VISTA technology incorporates the manageability, visibility and control over all the physical elements of a data center. The IT manager is then given an unprecedented view of data center assets, making it easier to understand the site s current configuration and efficiently identify or predict cooling problems. Integrating VISTA and TileFlow also facilitates CFD processes for any future design changes, avoiding potential disruptions and saving both resources and time. When IT managers import data into the modeling tool, they are

8 8 presented with a color-coded view that allows them to run what if scenarios. For example, the color of proposed racks is different from existing racks located in the room, so they can be tracked through various modeling scenarios. Combining VISTA and TileFlow offers a strong value proposition to data center managers by enabling them to plan and manage cooling on an operational basis for the first time, and helping them readily achieve the solutions they need for improved energy efficiency.

9 9 Conclusion The ongoing need to provide adequate cooling of data center equipment while simultaneously lowering energy consumption through more efficient airflow distribution is a vital issue that will continue to challenge IT managers. It has been clearly shown that airflow modeling based on the CFD technique can be used to identify and resolve cooling problems and inefficiencies in data centers; it is also documented that optimization of cooling system performance can significantly reduce cooling-related energy consumption and subsequent emission of green house gases. The integration of Aperture s VISTA and IRI s TileFlow can enhance the viability and usefulness of CFD modeling, successfully offering a more cost-effective solution for companies to manage today s dynamic IT environment.

10 10 Appendix A Modeled Scenario of a TileFlow CFD Analysis Integrated with Aperture VISTA Analysis Capabilities Figure 1.0 shows configuration data stored in Aperture VISTA for a single device. VISTA Data Center Configuration Management is the system of record for the physical infrastructure of the data center capturing detailed information on data center equipment including location, space, power, cooling and network and storage connectivity. Figure 1.0: Configuration data stored in Aperture VISTA for a single device.

11 11 Figure 2.0 shows how the device information is rolled up into the rack view. Aperture has created over 20,000 VISTA Symbols, which are graphic depictions of individual pieces of data center equipment that include all environmental statistics and nameplate power usage information, dimensions, weight and connection and port information from the manufacturer. This valuable information base is the basis for VISTA s modeling capability, and is the largest and most comprehensive data center equipment database in the industry today. At the click of a button, this information is exported from VISTA and imported into TileFlow. Figure 2.0: Device information in the Aperture VISTA rack view. Figure 3.0 shows a typical raised floor data center modeled in TileFlow software. The shape of the data center and the layout of objects in the space including perforated tiles, computer room air conditioning (CRAC) units and underfloor obstructions are defined in the TileFlow model. All information pertinent to server racks such as size, location and equipment inside the racks are imported from Aperture VISTA. Data related to the heat load and cooling air demands of the equipment inside racks is also imported from Aperture VISTA. The top surfaces of the racks are painted with different colors, each indicating the heat load of the racks (blue indicates low heat load, red and green indicate higher heat load). The horizontal lines on the front faces of the racks indicate their internal sections. A section can hold servers, can have a blanking panel, or can be open. The racks in the front-right section of the data center have a higher heat load compared to the rest of the racks. Therefore, the perforated tiles placed in front of these racks have higher open area to provide more airflow. Analysis generated by the two software applications indicates that under current layout, the total airflow demand of all the racks in the data center is less than 32,000 cubic feet per minute (CFM), and the total airflow supply from four CRAC units is 50,000 CFM. Therefore, one of the CRAC units (indicated by the red cross) has been turned off. The three remaining CRAC units supply 37,500 CFM, which is sufficient to meet the airflow demand of the racks.

12 12 Figure 3.0: Typical raised floor data center modeled in TileFlow software. Figure 4.0 displays a map of airflow rates from perforated tiles. The perforated tiles are color coded. It can be seen that the airflow supplied by tiles in front of the high-heat-load racks is around 800 CFM. The flow rates for the other tiles range from 400 to 550 CFM. Figure 4.0: Airflow rates from perforated tiles in CFM.

13 13 Figure 5.0 displays the air velocity and temperature distribution in a horizontal plane, as modeled by TileFlow. It shows a moderate amount of hot air from hot aisles penetrating the cold aisles. Most of the data center is at 75 degrees Fahrenheit or less. There is just a small section on the left side of the diagram that indicates areas spots around 85 degrees. Figure 5.0: Air velocity and temperature distribution. In Figure 1.0, the right side of the diagram has a relatively large empty space. As a part of an expansion process, the manager of this data center is planning to add three new rows of server racks to the data center. For planning purposes, the information about the equipment stored in the racks is added to Aperture VISTA. This future layout of racks is then imported into the data center s TileFlow model for airflow and cooling assessment. This is done during the planning stage, before commissioning the racks. Figure 6.0 shows the addition of the new racks on the right side of the diagram. Due to a moderate heat load produced within the new racks, regular perforated tiles with less open area are placed in front of them.

14 14 Figure 6.0: New racks added to the data center. The map of airflow rate from perforated tiles shown in Figure 7.0 indicates that the maximum airflow throughout the modeled data center has dropped from 800 CFM to 700 CFM, and the minimum airflow has dropped from 400 CFM to 300 CFM. In general, the average airflow from perforated tiles has been reduced by 100 CFM per tile. This is because the number of perforated tiles has increased. Figure 7.0: Airflow has dropped from 800 CFM to 700 CFM.

15 15 Finally, Figure 8.0 shows a strong penetration of hot air into the cold aisle following the introduction of the new racks. It also indicates that most of the data center is at temperatures of higher than 85 degrees. Figure 8.0: Penetration of hot air into the cold aisle following the introduction of the new racks. After adding the new racks, the airflow demand in the modeled data center has increased to over 41,000 CFM while the airflow supply remains at 37,500 CFM. This indicates that the fourth CRAC unit needs to be turned on. Figure 9.0, the map of airflow rate after turning the forth CRAC unit on, shows an increase of 150 CFM per perforated tile, with the maximum airflow at more than 900 CFM and minimum airflow at more than 450 CFM. Figure 9.0: Airflow rate after turning the forth CRAC unit on.

16 16 The temperature fog shown in Figure 10.0 depicts a significant decrease in the temperature values in the data center after turning on the fourth CRAC unit. Figure 10.0: Decreased temperature values after turning on the fourth CRAC unit. The overall thermal assessment of this data center produced by TileFlow and Aperture VSITA technologies indicates that there is enough cooling air available and the distribution of cooling air is appropriate Conclusion By implementing Aperture VISTA and TileFlow in CFD modeling processes, the modeled data center has benefitted from increased visibility into the data center environment. The analysis ensured the reliable operation of the IT equipment following the introduction of the new racks by identifying hot spots and devising a solution to guarantee the proper inlet temperature to the equipment. It also enabled the decommissioning of an unnecessary CRAC unit, saving money and energy and providing an instantaneous return on investment. For a better understanding of the potential amount of savings that could ideally be recognized by turning off the fourth CRAC unit, one should consider a calculation based on a typical 20-ton CRAC unit. Assumptions associated with this calculation are that the CRAC unit has two 7.5 horse-power blowers and needs about 18 kw to produce chilled air. The cost of electricity is 8 cents per kw and the blowers of the CRAC unit work 24 hours a day/365 days a year. The CRAC unit also produces chilled air for only 60 percent of the time. For the other 40 percent of the time, blowers circulate the room air. Given these assumptions, the annual energy and maintenance costs for this unit are calculated to be about $11,500 and $3,000 respectively. Therefore, by eliminating this one CRAC unit, the annual operating cost of $14,500 could be realized.

17 About Aperture Aperture is the leading global provider of software for managing the physical infrastructure of data centers. Aperture s solutions reduce operational risk and improve efficiency through the planning and management of data center resources. Aperture delivers the best practice processes that enable organizations to take control of an increasingly complex physical infrastructure including equipment, space, power, cooling, network and storage. With over 20 years of experience, Aperture provides organizations with the information required to optimize their data center operations, delivering better services at the lowest cost. Aperture s customers include the world s largest companies, half of which are Fortune 1000 and Global 500 organizations.. For more information, visit About Emerson Emerson (NYSE: EMR), based in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), is a global leader in bringing technology and engineering together to create innovative solutions for customers through its network power, process management, industrial automation, climate technologies, and appliance and tools businesses. Sales in fiscal 2008 were $24.8 billion. For more information, visit About Innovative Research, Inc. Innovative Research, Inc. provides quality software products and consulting services for fluid flow, heat transfer, combustion, turbulence, and related processes. IRI s flagship product TileFlow is the leading airflow simulation tool for data centers. It provides unparalleled ease of use, fast solution, and a large variety of colorful displays and animations of airflow and temperature patterns in data centers. TileFlow can be used for designing the cooling systems in new data centers and for upgrading or reconfiguring existing data centers in an ongoing manner. For more information, please go to:

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