As the world of data centers continues to evolve, new trends are emerging that will revolutionize the industry. From modular data centers to sustainable infrastructure design, 2023 is set to be an exciting year for data center trends. Over the past few years, hyperscale data centers have become an industry standard to manage increasing density and accelerator requirements. One of the most intriguing opportunities to aid these increasing requirements is the adoption of liquid cooling which enables facilities to become more efficient and cost-effective. In 2022, we saw a shift in the market toward liquid cooling adoption, and we expect to see even more data centers turn to liquid cooling solutions in 2023. Read on to learn about five data center trends that industry experts expect to see in 2023 and how liquid cooling will play a role.
5 Data Center Trends to Watch in 2023
1. Modular Data Centers: Scalable, On-Demand Capacity
In 2023, portability and repeatability are two major requirements influencing data center infrastructure and design trends as operators look for more efficient, scalable solutions. As a result, we anticipate more data centers implementing modular solutions this year. Modular data centers are smaller, more efficient facilities that use pre-manufactured components instead of traditional building blocks. These modular facilities can be deployed much faster than their brick-and-mortar counterparts, allowing organizations to scale up their operations quickly and easily. Liquid cooling solutions are well-suited for these types of facilities, especially scalable liquid cooling systems that fit into an air-cooled form factor. A recent Omdia survey found that most enterprise data center operators- 99%- believe that prefabricated, modular data center designs are the future. This isn’t some fad; it’s becoming the norm. JetCool predicts that hyperscalers will follow suit as they begin to see the value in standardization and efficiencies. We agree with companies like Vertiv, that in the near future, standardized facilities – from modular components, like power and cooling modules and skids, to complete prefabricated buildings – will become the go-to method for not just enterprise organizations but also hyperscale companies and edge applications.
2. Edge Computing Gets Sophisticated
By 2023, experts predict computing will transition from being done primarily in the cloud to being complemented at the edge. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 50% of new enterprise IT infrastructures will be deployed at the edge by the end of 2023. This shift is due to certain tasks, like real-time analytics and data collection, being more efficient when completed closer to where they originated. The introduction of 5G networks will also play a role in making edge computing more commonplace. Data center operators must invest in technologies such as liquid cooling systems to meet the needs of these new applications. Liquid cooled systems use water instead of air for cooling infrastructure, which allows data centers to operate at higher densities than traditional air-cooling solutions. As the edge of the network becomes more sophisticated, so will the infrastructure needed to support it. Liquid cooling is a great fit for edge computing because it can be deployed in remote locations, allowing for more efficient heat management without investing in complex infrastructure.
3. Density is Rising in the Data Center
In 2022, data center operators began to shift their focus towards higher rack densities, and we expect to see this trend continue in 2023. With the rise of cutting-edge technologies like AI, ML, and Web3.0, comes a higher demand for more powerful processors. Higher power processors generate more heat, driving data centers to install higher rack densities or accept reduced performance levels. According to JetCool’s 2022 Data Center Trends: Liquid Cooling Adoption Survey, OEMs, ODMs, and SIs are investigating new cooling technologies to address the difficulties of cooling high-density racks, with 57% of respondents using or expecting to use liquid-cooled devices in their product roadmap in the next year. The Uptime Institute’s 2022 Global Data Center Survey substantiates these findings, reporting rack densities have increased rapidly in the past three years for more than a third of data center operators. This is especially true among larger enterprise and hyperscale data centers, where nearly half of those operating facilities at 10MW and above reported racks above 20kW, and 20% claimed racks higher than 40kW.
4. Heat Reuse: A More Sustainable Future
Another 2023 trend we’re expecting is a focus on heat reuse. As data centers become more energy-efficient, the waste heat generated by these facilities can be recaptured and reused for other purposes, such as powering nearby buildings or local district heating systems. In 2023, it’s predicted that organizations will investigate ways to exploit their otherwise wasted heat , leveraging it to create other forms of energy. The possibilities are endless for what waste heat can be converted into, such as water heating, steam production for industrial uses, or electricity generation through a cogeneration process. Liquid cooling offers enterprises an optimal solution for recycling and leveraging their waste heat. Specifically, direct-to-chip liquid cooling is an attractive solution for heat reuse efforts, as mentioned by Data Center Dynamics:
“Heat generation at the server is extracted at a much higher temperature. The heat then becomes an almost immediately useful byproduct, being transportable and at the right temperature.”
Hyperscalers have been particularly interested in heat reuse since 2017, with Google and Apple investing in cogeneration systems at their data centers. In 2023, we anticipate more data centers taking advantage of the benefits that liquid cooling brings to their heat reuse initiatives.
5. Sustainability Drives Data Center Design
Sustainability will continue to be an important factor in data center design as companies become more increasingly aware of their environmental footprint. Liquid cooling solutions, along with other green technologies such as renewable energy sources and efficient power supplies, will be key components for data centers looking to reduce their carbon footprint. As data centers become increasingly resource-intensive, and contribute to rising water consumption levels, investing in liquid cooling systems will be critical to ensuring that operations remain sustainable. Since data centers are major energy consumers, enterprises must focus on sustainability to ensure their data centers remain operational over the long term without depleting the world’s energy resources. As we move into 2023, some of the world’s biggest data center companies have already implemented liquid cooling solutions to help maintain their commitment to sustainability. Equinix, AWS, Microsoft, and Meta have pledged to reduce the amount of electricity and water needed to run their server rooms. As a result, sustainability trends will continue to spread throughout the industry, and those who fail to go green could face long-term financial losses.
2023 is shaping to be an exciting year for the data center industry, with liquid cooling playing a central role in meeting growing demands for higher density and more energy-efficient computing. Although cloud computing isn’t going anywhere soon, on-prem and edge computing will become more prevalent as operators search for scalable, portable, and sustainable solutions. Companies that invest in these technologies now can develop reliable and secure solutions while reaping long-term financial benefits. By staying ahead of the trends, companies can ensure that their data centers remain competitive in the years to come. In summary, the trends for data centers in 2023 will focus heavily on improving efficiency through advanced technologies with a focus on sustainability.