What CFD can add to the DCIM solution

July 6, 2011 kamran.fouladi

What is CFD? 

Computational Fluid Dynamics is state-of-the-art computer-based simulation predicting what will happen when fluids (e.g., air, water or gases) flow. Using numerical methods and algorithms, CFD provides the ability to visualize and understand the complicated flow phenomena for systems too challenging and expensive to prototype. The factors affecting the path of flow such as objects and boundary conditions are mapped to a three-dimensional computational domain that is subdivided to small and finite volumes. The governing non-linear differential equations of fluid dynamics are then solved in the computational domain using high-performance computers and performing millions of calculations. The solutions to these equations are usually presented in graphical form as flow patterns. CFD analysis for data centers provides the virtual modeling of the room complete with IT and cooling equipment to help visualize and understand complicated airflow and thermal patterns in the room.

What CFD can add to the DCIM solution

Computational fluid dynamics has become an invaluable tool in helping organizations using DCIM solutions to investigate present and future power performance of data centers by providing clarity regarding their cooling efficacy. CFD’s capabilities are truly aligned with DCIM’s objectives of modeling, analyzing and predicting due to its ability to create virtual models and simulate the cooling environment of data centers.

  • Virtual simulation by CFD provides airflow and thermal patterns of the data center and enables detection of cooling problems (e.g., hotspots, restrictions in the airflow paths and mixing of cold and hot air streams) for any given scenario or layout configuration. While CFD has long been used by various industries to gain insight into complicated flow problems, the use of CFD by mission-critical facilities has recently begun to gain momentum. Many data centers have been turning to CFD simulation to find ways to improve reliability, availability and cooling effectiveness. In fact, recent surveys indicate that about 50 percent of data centers either have used or are using CFD to deal with their cooling issues.

CFD facilitates the investigation of cooling effectiveness of any proposed scenario by providing detailed airflow and thermal modeling of the room, aisles and racks while including the most salient physical features of data centers. These features can include equipment layout (IT and cooling), raised floor, dropped ceiling, columns, beams, cables, pipes, tiles (solid and perforated), floor cutouts and more. No other analysis tool can provide the ability to visualize how air — cold supply and hot return — moves through the room to reveal the underlying root causes of cooling problems and determine how much cooling capacity is left at the site. (Continued in next blog post.)

Excerpt from The DCIM Advisory feature article by Kamran Fouladi and Soheil “Sam” Negahbani, Energex Technologies.  Check back later for more on this feature.

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