Liquid cooling to go 'mainstream'

According to a recently published report from Dell’Oro Group, the Data Center Physical Infrastructure (DCPI) market is set to grow at an 11 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2023 to 2028, to over $46 billion. The proliferation of accelerated computing to support AI and ML workloads has emerged as a major DCPI market driver which is significantly increasing data center power and thermal management requirements.

“The AI opportunity for the DCPI market is getting closer, and bigger,” said Lucas Beran, Research Director at Dell’Oro Group. “DCPI vendors are increasing manufacturing capacity to support the expected scale of orders for purpose-built AI facilities. Meanwhile, end users continue to plan, design and develop operational readiness for these facilities. However, we still remain a few quarters away from this materializing in a meaningful way, which is why I characterize 2024, or at the least the first half of the year, as the calm before the storm.

“One of the primary characteristics that will distinguish these purpose-built AI facilities apart from general purpose computing is the rack power density. The average rack power density today is around 15 kW/rack, but AI workloads will dictate 60 – 120 kW/rack to support accelerated servers in close proximity. While this requires innovation and product development on the power distribution side, a bigger change is unfolding in thermal management – The transition from air to liquid cooling. The emergence of accelerated computing is propelling liquid cooling to become a mainstream technology, with its presence likely in most greenfield facilities. In response, we have raised our liquid cooling forecast which is now surpassing $3 billion in 2028,” added Beran.

Additional highlights from the Data Center Physical Infrastructure 5-Year January 2024 Forecast Report:

DCPI revenue growth is forecast to slow to a high single-digit rate in 2024, before accelerating to higher growth in 2025 through 2028.

Asia Pacific (excluding China), North America and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) are forecast to grow at the fastest CAGRs during the forecast period. China and the Caribbean and Latin America (CALA) are forecast to grow at slower rates.

Data Center Cabinet Power Distribution and Busway, Rack Power Distribution and Thermal Management are forecast to grow at the fastest rates during the forecast period.

Cloud and Colocation service providers are expected to account for the majority of growth during the forecast period, with the Enterprise customer segment growth forecast to be modest.

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