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Data Center Airflow Analysis

Question asked by Renee Matthews on Sep 5, 2014
Latest reply on Sep 11, 2014 by Jared Conway

Is anyone else using SolidWorks Flow Simulation to analyze airflow in data centers?  I'm currently in the process of verifying and validating a model I built of an existing data center.  I took a lot of environmental readings (i.e. air temp, air speed, and humidity) for the individual racks/servers, In Row Coolers (IRC), and Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) units to help with fine-tuning my model as well as some readings throughout the room at various monitor points to use as a "basis of comparison" for the simulation results.


Trying to find a way to simplify the model while still being able to duplicate the real-world results in the simulation has proven very difficult.  For instance, this data center uses a lot of different equipment in its server racks, but the most populous one is the HP C7000 blade enclosures.  HP developed their own fan for these enclosures - the Active Cool 200 fans. (I was able to get the specs of the fans from HP and added them to the Engineering Database.) Each C7000 has ten of these fans. In trying to figure out how best to build these enclosures in SolidWorks, I tested them in a "wind tunnel" in two ways: 1) with all the fans modeled separately and 2) as merged fans (fan curve CFM x 10); (I also made sure that the total fan area was the same for both). I found that while the model with separate fans did mimic the real-world readings, the merged fans did not accurately replicate the real-world environmental readings that I took for these enclosures, specifically for air speed readings and temp!  I tried multiplying the airspeed by ten, but that didn't work.  I then used Model #1 and attached a fan curve (vice an axial) for one fan to each modeled fan, and the results were not the same as for the when I attached an axial fan to each separate fan.  If the only difference between these models is to change the fan property from axial to simple a fan curve, shouldn't the resulting air speed and temp be the same?


Also, I've had to make the servers and perforated floor tiles "porous media" in order to take into account the air resistance of the servers perforated tiles, which has greatly increased the number of mesh cells; using Mesh Level 1 overall with no porous media and the number of cells = 1,356,466, and then with porous media = 2,828,189 cells?


Any suggestion in how to simplify this model while still getting accurate results?


My company recently procured a more robust computer for SolidWorks (see below), but the CPU gets maxed out when running the model and is projected to take hundreds and hundreds of hours to finish.

Dell Precision T5610 with

Intel Xeon Processor E5-2620 v2 (Six Core HT, 2.1GHz Turbo, 15 MB)

16GB (4x4GB) 1866MHz DDR3 ECC RDIMM

3 GB NVIDIA Quadro K4000 (2DP and 1DVI-I) (2DP-DVI and 1DVI-VGA adapter)

2TB 3.5inch Serial ATA (7,200 Rpm) Hard Drive

8x Slimline DVD+/-RW Drive