ChiliRack : Revolutionizing Cooling at the Server Rack

Revolutionizing Cooling at the Sever Rack


For decades, the efficiency and effectiveness of the conventional data center air-cooling process has been undermined by two limiting factors:
• Internal fans overtaxed by heat
• Room-based cooling results in suboptimal intake temperatures, hot spots

As a solutions provider of intelligent sensors, that monitor for these very risks; we have the data logging to show the evidence of thermal intake issues as well as thermal hotspots.

Thermal Image Alternate View
Equipment Hotspot detection

As a result of legacy room-based cooling methods, the air, as it reaches each piece of IT equipment; has been warmed up to some extent by the mixing of hot air exhaust with the cold air output from CRAC units and other sources. Further, due to other issues with this process, temperatures fluctuate greatly for any given server, and they can vary widely between different servers, even among those sitting in the same rack.

The ability of internal fans, built into each piece of IT equipment, to support heat removal is affected in part by the temperature of air as it enters server. Another effect is the amount of heat being generated by the server at any point in time. Equipment performance, reliability and life expectancy are all affected by the ability of the fans to sufficiently cool the equipment on a consistent basis. This is why monitoring of IT equipment, support systems and the environment are required for compliance.
The combination of unreliable intake air temperatures and unpredictable increases in server heat levels can spell trouble for equipment owners. We have collected the sensor alert data and thermal rise over time; to make effective upgrades for better performance within legacy sites.  For years, the industry has been forced to look at increased maintenance of HVAC equipment with can come along with heavy costs, while the server rack itself may still not see an efficiency result.  Until now.

Harnessing the elusive heat removal potential of air-cooling

As many solution providers dismissed air-cooling’s ability to adequately address today’s higher server heat levels and shifted their focus to other technologies, ChilliRack determined that air-cooling has huge untapped potential worth pursuing.

While new water-cooled technologies offer thermal efficiency, the rise of water conservation, the lack of abundant water supply in certain geographic locations and higher maintenance costs of these technologies are not suitable for all.

Research and Development is ongoing

Following years of R&D effort, which has resulted in dozens of patent filings and awards, ChilliRack has introduced a powerful precision air-cooling solution that performs extremely well in addressing higher heat levels data centers are currently facing. Resulting improvements to cooling efficiency drive big cost savings, regardless of server density levels, providing a strong business case for implementing ChilliRack across the entire data center.

Replacing wasteful room-based cooling method that data centers have relied upon so heavily over the years; with better intelligent sensor monitoring. The intention is to lower fan workloads to drive efficiency; and a new day is dawning for sustainable data center cooling without utilizing excess water!

Better Air-Cooling Starts with the Basics

At the core of ChilliRack technology is a relatively simple process that brings cold air directly into the rack, sourced either from the raised floor below or from an overhead AC plenum. Improved air flow is achieved with the help of a powerful intake fan, pushing cold air through all the servers in the rack, and an exhaust fan rapidly removing hot air, which is channeled to the return duct above.

Through this cooling method, ChilliRack quickly lowers internal temperatures of every server in the rack, and reliably maintains temperatures at much lower heat levels than today’s air-cooling technology can support. As a result, equipment performs optimally, risk of failure is greatly reduced, and server life expectancy is extended. With continuous intelligent sensor monitoring, any change in environmental conditions sets off a direct real-time alert.  We have determined that efficiency can be easily increased and human intervention can be greatly reduced by letting equipment run in an optimized way.

Ready to address today’s growing heat removal needs

ChilliRack is capable of handling the cooling needs of today’s rack-based equipment. No modifications to IT equipment are needed, so equipment owners can easily make a full transition to ChilliRack when the time is right.

ChilliRack greatly improves cooling efficiency, providing cost savings while cutting power consumption, and reducing the amount of cooling equipment required throughout the data center. By adapting easily to current cooling equipment, costly and time-consuming infrastructure modifications are avoided, and transition to ChilliRack can occur swiftly.

Unlike many complicated and expensive cooling technologies, ChilliRack is extremely cost-effective, with big cost savings driving a quick ROI, making it easy to cost-justify moving all of a company’s equipment to ChilliRack – not just high density HPC servers.

Optimizing data center server capacity

Ineffective air-cooling is the primary factor preventing data centers from maximizing their total server capacity. With the amount of heat generated by today’s equipment often exceeding the cooling capabilities of internal fans, equipment owners are forced to leave a good bit of open rack space between servers as a heat buffer. This spacing can help prevent overheating, but it comes at a cost. Some estimates suggest that the average rack utilization in a typical data center is less than 50% of the rack’s total potential server capacity, driven largely by excessive heat levels.

With ChilliRack, cooling needs are extremely well addressed, in most cases allowing equipment to occupy every RU in the rack. Simulations by Black & Veatch, verified through extensive testing, have demonstrated that ChilliRack users can “pack the rack” from top to bottom, with confidence that every server will be cooled better than ever before possible in today’s racks, which rely upon the internal server fans (along with server spacing) to perform the cooling task. The added boost provided by ChilliRack’s intake fan, combined with the swift removal of hot air by the exhaust fan provide the cooling reliability needed to make full rack utilization possible.

For data centers currently utilizing less than 50% of each rack’s equipment capacity, transitioning to ChilliRack could potentially double the amount of equipment that can be supported throughout the data center. This represents a huge opportunity to increase the number of customers served within a given facility, which results in additional revenues, cost savings and operating efficiencies.

ChilliRack® Use Cases

Data center owners with limited rack space

ChilliRack provides the ability for equipment owners to confidently “pack-the-rack” with servers, knowing that their equipment will be cooled effectively.

Examples of data center owners that would value ChilliRack’s greatly expanded equipment capacity:

  • Enterprise data center owners with limited space, looking to avoid issues related to colocation and cloud-based alternatives.
  • Successful Colocation and Cloud service providers experiencing strong growth in demand that could exceed the capacity of existing facilities or new data centers under construction.
  • Service providers focused on managing the bottom line, wishing to reign in the investments in new construction by making more efficient use of existing data centers.

For companies facing growth-related constraints, ChilliRack’s ability to more effectively cool today’s rack-based IT equipment represents an attractive strategic option. Transitioning to take advantage of ChilliRack efficiencies can be pursued quickly, and on a large scale. Many customers will be able to shrink the overall footprint of their existing equipment by 50% or more. Equipment that is taking up two cabinets today- may fit into one ChilliRack, freeing up large amounts of data center space to address internal growth pressures or expanding customer demand.

Big cost savings make ChilliRack a smart investment, providing a strong ROI that makes a full transition of all IT equipment. The focus is not just high density HPC servers, rather the solution is easily adapted to today’s cooling equipment. As infrastructure costs are nominal, a quick implementation is possible.

Colocation providers seeking competitive advantage and higher profit margins

Across the highly-competitive colocation market, companies are seeking new ways to increase sales, revenue and profit margins.  ChilliRack provides a number of strategic possibilities that providers can use to great advantage.

One powerful strategic move available to colocation providers would be to broaden the scope of their overall value proposition, expanding their service offering to include providing ChilliRack cabinets, as an alternative to today’s “bring-your-own-rack” model.  Here are some ways that operators gain from making such a change for new customer acquisition:

  • By purchasing ChilliRack cabinets and offering them for use by new customers, providers can more easily claim full credit for the benefits that ChilliRack provides, such as superior cooling, a green and more efficient cooling method, greatly increased server capacity in each rack, and any related economic benefits.
  • Given the new forms of value customers will now receive, providers can justify charging more for a package made possible by ChilliRack. By eliminating the need for customers to buy the ChilliRack themselves, operators are simplifying the decision, thus boosting close rates and more quickly capturing all the ancillary benefits that accrue to the provider.
  • With each new customer occupying a smaller footprint than they would in today’s environment, the data center can handle a much larger number of customers. Some providers could see data centers able to support twice as many customers as before, which means any new data center will take twice as long to reach full occupancy. This could provide much-needed spending relief to companies now forced to invest heavily in data center construction.

Capitalizing on the benefits of ChilliRack to help drive new customer sales makes a lot of sense, but conversion of current customers to ChilliRack may represent an even bigger strategic opportunity in the near term.  And if these are pursued in tandem, colocation providers more quickly capture the full value that ChilliRack provides, from a more powerful competitive stance to greater sustainability and stronger profits.

Each data center now occupied by customers represents a sizable opportunity to recapture usable floor space needed to support new customer growth. By incentivizing customer transitions with the benefits ChilliRack provides, customers can move quickly.

  • Since ChilliRack can easily accommodate today’s equipment, a swift wholesale transition is possible.
  • In many cases the transition process will be most efficiently accomplished with the creation of data halls dedicated to ChilliRack, where rack utilization can be maximized for each customer. With a few simple modifications, ChilliRack-ready space can be easily created in any existing structure, and be expanded as needed.
  • Any part of the data center that is fully-converted to ChilliRack will no longer need the room-based cold air provisioning required today, and there is a good chance that some existing CRAC units will no longer be needed, freeing up floorspace for additional racks. All racks will be connected directly to the cold air source(s), as well as to the hot air return duct creating a fully-closed system.
  • Full conversion to ChilliRack provides greater design agility by eliminating the need for hot/cold aisle configurations or hot/cold air containment solutions. Without these constraints, the floor layout becomes a lot more flexible, likely expanding total rack capacity as a result.
  • As customer equipment is more densely packed into ChilliRack cabinets, space is freed up for new customers to occupy.
  • By opening up additional capacity in all cities in which a colocation provider currently operates, it may be possible to shift the focus of future construction projects to new markets.

Given the strong business case justifying a move to ChilliRack, it’s easy to overlook the resulting sustainability benefits.  The growing value that businesses place on ensuring their service providers are aggressively pursuing sustainability means that ChilliRack becomes a strong competitive differentiator for colocation providers, helping to attract and retain customers.

ChilliRack® Benefits

Installation and transition:

  • Straight-forward cold air sourcing and hot air removal simplifies installation process
  • Ability to move any/all current equipment to ChilliRack allows quick and easy transition

Better equipment cooling:

  • Superior cooling of servers improves equipment reliability, performance and life expectancy
  • More efficient cooling means reduced power consumption and enhanced sustainability

Greater total data center server capacity:

  • Ability to “pack-the-racks” expands total data center server capacity
  • Potential doubling of total data center server capacity also doubles revenue potential
  • Expanded data center capacity drives operating cost efficiencies and savings, improving the bottom line
  • Higher data center server capacity slows the need to invest in new data center construction

Lower electric power demand:

  • Lower power consumption contributes toward meeting sustainability goals
  • Reductions in power use will result in significant cost savings
  • Reduced strain on local power generation capacity reduces power sourcing risks

A solid foundation for addressing cooling challenges of today and tomorrow.

Alternate E Source is on a mission to leverage new technology for efficiency and compliance. The ChilliRack technology platform,  provides the goal of fully optimizing the efficiency and effectiveness of precision air-cooling of IT equipment to address an evolving range of needs and use cases.

Revolutionizing operations and management is a continuous focus for Alternate E Source.  We are always to expanding the utilization of cutting-edge technologies with expertise; from edge facilities and to wherever compute, storage and networking capabilities are needed in the future.


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