Maintaining the temperature in a server room is a tough job. Since servers produce heat, you need to simultaneously create a chilly environment and use fans to blow the heat away from the servers.
If you’re in charge of this challenging task, the lives of those servers are literally in your hands. If you don’t maintain the proper temperature, irreversible damage can be done.
Graphics cards can catch on fire
It’s not unheard of for customers to report graphics cards catching on fire from overheating. The same can happen in your server room if it gets too hot.
Overheated servers can blow the CPU
CPUs are delicate and often the first component to blow. When the CPU melts down from overheating, that server will be toast. This effect of a blown CPU is noticeable immediately, since a server can’t function without a working processor.
You can replace the CPU, but your memory, motherboard, and power supply will have been permanently weakened by exposure to the heat. This means those components will fail sooner than expected, if they didn’t already get fried with the CPU.
Program memory can become corrupt
ROM memories dependent on a charged, isolated plate will lose memory as temperature rises. When this happens, program memory can become corrupt.
Programs can start to fail
As thermal noise increases, there can be a higher bit error rate that causes programs to misinterpret commands. At this point, programs can start to exhibit random operations, and sometimes the entire server will reboot for no apparent reason.
Fans and compressed air aren’t enough – you need a liquid cooling system
If your server room isn’t ice cold, it’s not cold enough. Fans are important, but they won’t bring the temperature down like a computer room cooling system.
To protect your servers, you need to control temperature and air flow to make sure the room doesn’t have any hot spots. You also need to filter the air to prevent particles from doing damage to the machines. This can be accomplished with a computer room air conditioner.
Traditionally, a computer room air conditioner (CRAC) has been a great way to maintain precise control of a server room’s temperature and humidity. A CRAC system uses a compressor to cool the air, but liquid cooling is taking over. In fact, Google’s parent company Alphabet had no choice but to use liquid cooling for its powerful TensorFlow 3.0 AI processors.
In a server room where lines might need to be disconnected and reconnected, there is a concern with liquid. However, the fluid that cools the servers is dielectric, and companies are developing non-drip modular couplers for liquid cooling systems. The couplers used in low-pressure liquid cooling systems are similar to the hydraulic couplers used in agriculture and industrial machinery.
Liquid cooling is available to anyone
You don’t need a huge budget to use a liquid cooling system. Although, it’s going to cost money to use the energy to run the system. However, if you rely on your servers, it’s worth the cost. Liquid cooling systems are more efficient than forced air systems to start with. You’ll pay a little more for the energy usage, but the result is a cool server room without hot spots that can damage or destroy your servers.
If you’re curious to see what’s available, there are several startups offering different types of liquid cooling systems. One system, for example, uses a low flow rate and negative pressure. When there’s a break in the line, the fluid retreats rather than spilling out.
Another cooling system intentionally allows small amounts of coolant to spill onto the CPU and RAM to further cool the components. This liquid is non-corrosive, non-flammable, and dielectric, so it’s not a problem.
Some liquid cooling systems can’t be easily applied to existing servers in operation. Special mounting and setup are necessary.
Can’t use liquid cooling? Stick with compressed air
If you can’t add a liquid cooling system to your existing server room, using a compressed air system is still an optimal solution. It doesn’t matter what system you use as long as your server room stays cool.