The traditional data centre is reaching its limit; however, it’s not the first, or the last time it must adapt to meet the ever-changing needs of digital innovation.
By Lizzi Long
Data Centre & Business Continuity, General Manager
The demand for high performance
The amount of data created, captured and stored over the past 10 years has grown exponentially, with predictions for global growth said to reach 180 zettabytes by 2025. Data centres play a key role in storing this data, however the pressure is mounting – the way they are created and designed today must drastically evolve.
According to AFCOM’s 2021 State of the Data Centre Report, trends indicate data centre design will have a broader focus on performance, density, and efficiency, with 62 percent of respondents reporting an increase in rack density over the past three years (25 percent have an average rack density of seven to 10kW).
The traditional data centre rack that holds just 7kW is reaching its limits; however, it’s not the first, or the last time data centres have needed to adapt to meet the ever-changing needs of technology advancements. Data will always need a home. So, meeting the rapid demand of rising density and the uptake of high performance computing (HPC) is no different – data centres will always keep pace.
1 . High performance matters – it’s here to stay
Once considered a niche, HPC is transitioning into mainstream businesses, with more scalable, cost-efficient solutions bringing it within the scope of new users. Whether it’s performing high-frequency trading, rendering special effects for movies, or undertaking big data calculations a growing number of organisations rely on HPC for daily operations.
While a laptop or desktop with a 3.0 GHz processor can perform around three billion calculations per second, a HPC solution performs quadrillions. With a long list of impressive capabilities, the role of HPC shouldn’t be understated, enabling extreme data processing for game changing scientific, industrial, and inspired ideas around the world.
2. As demands are heating up, data centres are cooling down
Processing huge amounts of data at speed, HPC uses large quantities of power per cabinet, generating a vast amount of heat. The heat load of high-density equipment must be managed differently to low-density equipment. Traditional data centres with perimeter cooling are not equipped to provide next generation cooling capabilities to accommodate high power density – no matter its configuration, air cooling simply cannot deliver the heat removal capacity that is required for this level of efficiency.
A reconfiguration of traditional data centre infrastructure, the high-density data centre (HDDC) has been quietly evolving in the shadows of rapid technological innovation.
Key insightHDDCs have been intelligently designed to enable organisations to future-proof their storage, by providing a scalable solution for increasing data density. Offering the capabilities to support enhanced computing power, the HDDC can ramp up to 100kW per rack.
According to Gartner, Inc.“The use of liquid cooling can solve the high-density, server-cooling problem, because water (conductive cooling) conducts more than 3,000 times as much heat as air and requires less energy to do so. Liquid cooling enables the ongoing scalability of computing infrastructure to meet business needs.” There’s also an added benefit here – unlike traditional air-cooled data centres, as more workloads move across to high-density racks, the total kW of cooling load will actually decrease. This is because the majority of airflow is handled close coupled to the HDDC rack, which reduces the amount of airflow needed to circulate across the entire data centre.
3. A cool change for the environment
By 2025, Gartner, Inc. predicts that data centres deploying specialty cooling and density techniques will see a 20 to 40 percent reduction in operating costs. This prediction can sound confusing when data density is increasing at such high speed. According to Data Frontier’s 2021 Special Report, high-density racks have the ability to increase power density from 5-10kW per rack to 25-100kW per rack, offering the opportunity to substantially reduce the size of the facility.
That means future HDDCs will require less rack space, use less power distribution equipment, cost significantly less to build, and lower their overall consumption of materials.
Traditional data centre providers will continue to be met with the challenge of efficiently dissipating heat produced by HPC – ultimately accelerating their transition to HDDC, leading to more optimised, sustainable operations across the industry.
Once upon a time, to meet new demands, a data centre would simply increase floor space and install more racks to hold more servers. While the problem of increasing density remains unchanged, the solution has become much more complex, with much more to consider than available floor space. That said, data centre solutions have evolved to be closely aligned with IT solutions – and when consolidated, these solutions will optimise commercial outcomes. While the world continues to embark on a data binge and the pace of change intensifies, the data centre will keep reinventing itself, opening new doors in the continual pursuit of digital innovation.
Ready to make the shift?
If speed is key for your business and milliseconds count, it could be time to investigate if moving to a high-density data centre