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IBM Journal of Research and Development

Environmental Monitoring and Management   Abstract
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Thermodynamics of information technology data centers

by R. Schmidt
and M. Iyengar
Information technology (IT) data centers consume a significant amount of energy, and the rate of increase of this energy consumption is growing faster than consumption in several other major industries. Thus, government regulatory agencies, academicians, and various industries have a heightened interest in IT data centers. Because almost all the electrical energy consumed in a data center is released in the form of heat, the energy required for cooling the data center contributes to a major fraction of the total data center energy consumption and is the focus of this study. Traditional data center facilities utilize vapor-compression refrigeration chiller plants, heat exchanger-based room air conditioners, pumps, and evaporative cooling towers. In servers, air cooling via heat sinks and fans is used for heat extraction and heat rejection into the room. Holistic thermodynamic models are developed using system and component physics to facilitate the prediction of the energy consumption and heat-transfer phenomenon in a data center. These models help technologists understand the distribution of energy consumption for cooling purposes among various components of a facility. Finally, we provide a summary of the emerging trends in data center thermodynamics.

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