Preparing Your Data Center for Extreme Temperatures

Experts predict a big year for liquid and immersion cooling for data centers. A recent trends report for 2024 suggests that “liquid cooling will move from a ‘futuristic’ plan to an immediate ‘must-have,’” becoming an increasingly important component to any data center design.

There are some established reasons for this, and it’s reasonable to expect they’ll come to a head this year. Increasingly powerful server infrastructure necessarily generates more heat than IT equipment of eras past. Traditional cooling methods continue to demonstrate that they may no longer be up to the task of keeping data centers cool enough for optimal operation.

It means that the time is now for data centers and operators to be proactive in implementing new data center cooling solutions, including immersion cooling. Here’s why:

Why Immersion Cooling?

Immersion cooling—where IT equipment is submerged in a cooling dielectric fluid—is an established technology that can deliver better thermal performance, enhanced power density, and greater power usage effectiveness. When implemented properly, immersion cooling can help lessen downtime, enable data centers to house and maintain denser server infrastructure, and divert more kilowatt consumption directly to IT hardware .

Why Now?

Immersion cooling is, in fact, a well-established technology with a proven track record. It’s trusted by many of the biggest names in tech. So, it’s worth asking: Why is immersion cooling gaining greater traction today? And why do data center owners, operators and managers need to be seriously considering making the switch?

Part of the answer is simple: Conventional air-cooling methods aren’t up to the task of properly cooling increasingly powerful server infrastructure. Next-generation processing units are expected to maintain a thermal design power (TDP) of ~350 watts. Typical server rack power densities today are around 40kW and the industry is looking to move to 100kW per rack (many servers make up a rack). Superior cooling technology will be a requirement for increasingly powerful data centers.

Inadequate cooling systems aren’t an option for data centers. Cooling failures represent a common cause of data center outages, representing 13% of such events per year, according to the Uptime Institute, and it’s not hard to picture a future where that percentage rises as infrastructure generates more and more heat. Further, consider that 70% of data center outage incidents cost $100,000 or more, with 25% costing more than $1 million.

It's clear that cooling failure can be damaging to the bottom line, and it’s a threat that’s only growing. It’s why data center owners, operators and managers need to act now to implement new cooling tech—like immersion cooling—into their current and future plans.

Why Strategic Implementation Is Key

Converting to immersion cooling comes with the opportunity to further future-proof your operations, and working with the right partners is important to get the most of it.

“[Implementing immersion cooling] right requires a complete data center redesign,” an expert told Data Center Knowledge in late 2023. “So while we’ll continue to see ‘temporary fixes’ over the next year, I predict the hyperscalers will be prioritizing and making the necessary moves to strategically implement liquid cooling into their data center builds.”

There are unique benefits to immersion cooling for hyperscale data centers, but strategic implementation can help data centers maximize their processing potential in smaller spaces. The right solution can enable you to take greater advantage of the real estate taken up by conventional cooling machinery. With the right strategy, this may allow you to design more server infrastructure into an existing space. But no matter the size of your operation, immersion cooling can help better prepare you for the future.

Strategic implementation also includes evaluating fluid choice. Early generation immersion cooling fluids were base oils sourced straight from the refinery, designed for different applications and industries and repurposed for use in data centers. But today, immersion fluids that have been formulated and developed specifically for data centers’ unique needs can offer optimized performance properties and better material compatibility. And as power demands increase, next-generation fluids should be able to help extend the useful life expectancy of data center hardware.

Interested in learning more? If you haven’t explored immersion cooling in depth, the time is now—and Lubrizol is ready to help you from start to finish.

Our CompuZol™ immersion cooling fluid solutions can enable data centers anywhere—and of any size—to achieve more effective and efficient cooling. We’ve worked closely with leading IT companies to help future-proof forward-thinking infrastructure, helping meet rising demand for data production while maintaining long-term resilience.

Ready to get started? Contact your Lubrizol representative to find out how CompuZol can transform your operations today.