As organizations implement more powerful systems for data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and other compute-intensive workloads, they often find that their existing data center cooling environment is insufficient. The graphics processing units (GPUs) used in many AI and deep learning applications consume a lot of power and thus generate a lot of heat. But does it make sense to re-engineer data center cooling systems to support these isolated workloads?

In-rack cooling solutions may offer a better alternative. As the name implies, in-rack cooling places a cooling unit right in the rack or cabinet. The rack cooling unit (RCU) functions in a closed relationship with the equipment housed in the rack, creating a highly efficient solution.

Instead of relying on chilled air from a distant computer room air conditioning unit (CRAC), the equipment has a dedicated source of cooling that’s in very close proximity. The airflow path is extremely short, so heat is dissipated quickly and very little energy is wasted. The cold air has no alternative but to move across the equipment and the exhaust air is captured at its hottest point.

Rack cooling units may use may use refrigerant or chilled water as the cooling medium. While refrigerant-based units are self-contained, chilled water units have to be connected to chiller. Typically, chilled water units are placed in a separate but adjacent rack so that the liquid does not come in contact with the IT equipment.

For enclosures with lower power densities, fans may provide sufficient in-rack cooling. Fans can be mounted in slide-out trays within the rack, or on the roof, sides or door. They can also be used in concert with other cooling technologies to improve airflow and efficiency.

In-rack cooling is related to in-row cooling, which places the cooling unit directly in a row of racks and cabinets. However, in-rack cooling is even more agile and flexible, allowing equipment to be placed virtually anywhere in the IT environment. In addition to supporting high-density racks, in-rack cooling is ideal for retail stores, schools, medical facilities, branch offices and other locations that need highly efficient, space-optimized IT infrastructure.

Rahi offers a refrigerant-based rack cooling unit from our partner Enconnex. The rackmount unit consumes just 10U of space yet delivers up to 5kW of cooling capacity. It includes SNMP, TCP/IP and RS-2343 connectivity for remote monitoring and management.

Rahi’s FlexIT OIB (Office in a Box) rack is an all-in-one solution that provides built-in cooling, backup UPS power, smart power distribution, network services, and physical and IT security. The 8U rack cooling unit is self-contained, requiring no external water source or refrigerant, and cools up to 5kW of heat load. The cabinet includes pre-installed blanking panels to ensure that air flows where needed, and smart exhaust fans that turn on when temperatures exceed a configurable threshold.

If you’re looking for an efficient way to handle the heat loads produced by compute-intensive workloads, in-rack cooling may be the answer. Rack cooling units also allow you to create a proper environment for your equipment in virtually any location. Contact Rahi to discuss whether in-rack cooling makes the most sense for your project.

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