Top Five Benefits of Immersion Cooling (Plus a Few Potential Drawbacks)


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As IT equipment evolves and sustainability concerns mount, cooling has been a hot topic in the data center industry. Today’s servers produce a significant amount of heat and need intensive cooling solutions that maximize energy efficiency. For some data centers, that solution is immersion cooling.

Immersion cooling setups submerge IT equipment in a dielectric fluid to remove heat. This innovative cooling technology has gained significant traction, especially for high-performance computing and high-density contexts—and with good reason. 


Top Benefits of Immersion Cooling for Data Center Cooling

There are many cooling methods that data centers can employ, so why do some choose immersion cooling? This innovative cooling method is gaining popularity because of some distinct advantages it offers:


1. Increased Density

Immersion cooling allows for higher computing densities within a smaller physical footprint. A 2023 study confirmed this, explaining: “The higher heat capacity of used liquids in immersion cooling compared to air allows for much higher rack power densities.” Since immersion cooling is exceptionally effective at dissipating heat, it enables data centers to pack more computing power into a smaller space, maximizing the utilization of the area.

2. Enhanced Energy Efficiency

That same study found that data centers switching from air cooling to immersion cooling could see about a 50 percent reduction in energy consumption. Immersion cooling can lower energy consumption because it doesn't require as much power to maintain optimal temperatures. Many data centers are looking to lower energy consumption and optimize their power usage effectiveness (PUE), which they’re most likely to do with two-phase immersion cooling. All forms of immersion cooling have a lower PUE than either air cooling methods or direct-to-chip liquid cooling. Another consideration is immersion cooling’s quieter operation, which negates the need for noise control systems.


3. Lower Total Cost of Ownership

With more efficient cooling, data centers can reduce their overall energy usage and associated costs by a significant margin. Making the switch to immersion cooling can be cost-intensive, but over time, you could see a return on investment via a lower total cost of ownership.


4. Less Physical Space

In addition to other space-saving solutions like mechanical skids for cooling equipment, immersion cooling offers a space-efficient solution. By various estimates, immersion cooling reduces the physical space required for cooling equipment anywhere from two-thirds to 85 percent. This is significant for data centers because space taken up by cooling infrastructure is space that can’t be used for IT equipment. By reducing the footprint of cooling equipment, you can maximize rack space for your own IT equipment or for colocation clients—and make more profit.


5. Improved Hardware Life

By maintaining more consistent and lower operating temperatures, immersion cooling can reduce the stress on IT hardware, leading to decreased wear and tear over time. That means immersion cooling can potentially extend the lifespan of hardware, reducing the frequency of downtime and costs associated with replacements.


What Role Do Data Centers Play in Edge Computing?

As with any cooling technology, immersion cooling also presents some possible drawbacks. When comparing data center cooling technologies, data centers should consider these potential downsides to choosing immersion cooling:

Up-Front Cost

While the total cost of ownership can be lower for immersion cooling compared to other cooling technologies, it’s undeniable that the up-front cost of immersion cooling is higher. Some data centers may be reluctant to make such a large up-front investment. Additional costs may be entailed in changing or retrofitting IT equipment to be optimized for immersion cooling.


Unfamiliar Maintenance Procedures

Maintaining immersion cooling involves different procedures than your maintenance staff may be used to with other cooling systems. That may necessitate new training and changes to maintenance procedures and staff in order to take proper care of your immersion cooling equipment.


Configuration Challenges

While immersion cooling can take up less floor space than other systems, it requires more overhead space for cranes to operate. Some data centers must also reconfigure their layouts to switch to immersion tanks. For this reason, Abhijit Sunil of Forrester Research notes that “immersion cooling is better to consider on net new builds or retrofits.”

Learn More About Data Center Cooling Technologies

Immersion cooling stands out as an innovative and efficient solution for data center cooling, offering several key benefits. However, making the switch to immersion cooling can come with some potential drawbacks, especially in the short term.

Choosing the best cooling solution for your data center should involve a detailed comparison of technologies across a wide range of factors. Learn about the pros and cons of various cooling technologies found in data centers today by reading The Complete Guide to Data Center Cooling.


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