COLUMBUS, Ohio — Vertiv has been ranked by technology analyst firm Omdia as the largest global supplier in a data center cooling market, which continues to undergo change and innovation. The research highlights established heat rejection technologies, such as direct expansion (DX), chilled water, and evaporative cooling, continue to dominate while also becoming more sustainable. In addition, new technologies, such as forms of liquid cooling, are predicted to grow as data center operators look for ways to further improve efficiency and deal with increasingly power-intensive compute.

The “Data Center Thermal Management Report 2020,” published in late 2020 and based on 2018 and 2019 data, states that Vertiv has a 23.5% share of the global data center cooling market — more than 10% higher than its nearest rival. The market for data center thermal technology is set to increase from $3.3 billion in 2020 to more than $4.3 billion in 2024, according to Omdia. Vertiv also leads the global market for perimeter thermal technologies, with a 37.5% market share, which is more than 20% higher than the next largest supplier.

In addition to analysing market position, the report provides insight and intelligence on how data center cooling technology is evolving. Established technologies, such as chillers and perimeter cooling, will remain a large proportion of the market. According to Omdia, split DX is still the primary form of heat rejection in data center thermal management, but chilled water and direct evaporative heat rejection are gaining momentum. In addition, cloud and colocation service provider momentum has accelerated, driving double-digit growth for air-handling units (AHUs).

Omdia predicts there will also be strong growth in forms of liquid cooling — immersion and direct-to-chip — that are expected to double between 2020 and 2024. Several factors are contributing to this shift, including increasing chip and server power consumption, edge growth, and increasing rack densities, as well as energy efficiency and sustainability requirements.

“The data center thermal management market is on the cusp of an inflection point,” said Lucas Beran, principal analyst for Omdia’s cloud and data center research practice and author of the report. “Currently, existing air-based thermal products and solutions are driving growth but are limited by their ability to cool 10-kW-plus rack densities. New technologies, products, and designs are coming to market to help support these high-density deployments and more efficient operations, leading to changing market dynamic through 2024.” 

“While we are continuing to see strong demand for established thermal technologies, the growth in high-density compute is also driving interest in forms of liquid cooling, either direct to chip or immersion,” said John Niemann, vice president of thermal management, Vertiv. “Vertiv already has a number of high-density cooling technologies and will continue to innovate in this area via new product development and partnerships.”

Vertiv has announced several recent innovations in thermal technology. In North America, Vertiv announced the Liebert XDU, a thermal management system that supports an entire cabinet of liquid-cooled servers and enables drop-in retrofits in air-cooled data centers.

In addition to internal innovations, Vertiv is also working with industry thought leadership groups and recently became a Platinum Member of the Open Compute Project (OCP). Vertiv’s role will include supporting initiatives on the adoption of liquid cooling through the Advanced Cooling Solutions (ACS) and Advanced Cooling Facility (ACF) projects. The aim is to bring guidelines and best practices for direct-to-chip and immersion liquid cooling technologies as well as enable practices for data center facilities to adopt liquid cooling.

Vertiv’s own research into thermal technologies also points to future innovation. According to Vertiv’s “Data Center 2025: Closer to the Edge” report, the data center industry has seen a large-scale shift to economization driven by hyperscale operators and colocation providers while simultaneously driving heat removal closer to servers through rear door and liquid cooling systems designed to support the high-density racks common in high-performance computing (HPC) facilities. Of the 800-plus data center professionals that responded to the survey, 42% expect future cooling requirements to be met by mechanical systems, while 22% say they will be met with liquid cooling and outside air —a result likely driven by the more extreme rack densities being observed today.