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TileFlow: Features

A CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) Modeling Software Tool for Data Centers

  • Airflow and Temperature Distribution in Raised-Floor Data Center

    Airflow and Temperature Distribution in Raised-Floor Data Center

  • Temperature distribution in an irregular-shaped, non-raised-floor data center  » Click to zoom ->

    Temperature distribution in an irregular-shaped, non-raised-floor data center

TileFlow has been specifically designed to give the user the ultimate ease-of-use and speed in setting up the data center model and examining the results. In addition, TileFlow has an unmatched speed in performing the calculation. Further, TileFlow presents the simulation results in a variety of colorful and attractive formats, making it a useful communication tool (in addition to a reliable analysis tool).

The results given by TileFlow have been extensively validated by comparing them with measurements in a number of data centers, and shown to be accurate. 

In a CFD simulation, TileFlow takes as input the physical details of the data center (such as, its size and shape, and the locations and characteristics of the cooling units, servers/racks, perforated tiles, and obstructions) and uses an efficient, customized solver to produce detailed information about the airflow pattern and temperature distribution. The simulation-based approach is predictive in nature. It is ideally suited for studying the effect of proposed changes (e.g., addition, removal, and rearrangement of racks and servers, and “what if” scenarios) and for designing new data centers. Note that the proposed changes are made in a computer representation of the data center—not in the physical data center itself. Thus, the data center is not disturbed while the implications of various changes are being studied.

In addition to the CFD technique, TileFlow can also use measured temperatures (gathered using sensors) to calculate the temperature distribution in a computer room. In this sensor-based approach, it takes as input the geometry of the data-center layout and the sensor positions and temperatures. This approach is suitable if the objective is to just monitor the environmental conditions and trigger alarms/notifications.

TileFlow features an intuitive and easy-to-use graphical user interface, an efficient and accurate solution technique, and a variety of postprocessing tools for comprehensive reporting of the simulation results. 

An Intuitive, Easy-to-Use Graphical User Interface

  • Point-and click, mouse-driven
  • Simultaneous two- and three-dimensional views
  • Zoom, pan, rotate, turn, and tilt tools
  • Perspective and orthographic views
  • Individual-object-based display options
  • Extensive database of air-conditioning units (CRAC units), perforated tiles, server racks, in-row coolers, and servers from leading manufacturers
  • Use-definable characteristics of CRAC units, perforated tiles, server racks, in-row coolers, and servers
  • Under-floor obstructions and partitions to represent pipes, cables, and other obstructions in the plenum
  • Above-floor rooms
  • Above-floor partitions and blockages
  • Supplemental cooling units (XDO, XDV, and in-row coolers)
  • Rear-door heat exchangers
  • Inlet/outlet vents in the computer room, on walls, ceiling, and solid blocks
  • Inlet/outlet vents below the raised floor, on walls and subfloor
  • Containments
  • Aisles tool
  • Irregular shapes
  • Column array
  • Return ceiling plenum
  • Variety of rack airflow configurations
  • Rack builder to configure racks
  • Dynamic count of objects on the floor
  • Inspect Tool to view characteristics of individual air-conditioning units, perforated tiles, and server racks
  • Choice of units (English or Metric) for input and output quantities
  • Ability to specify tile size
  • Import of rack and server data from Excel file, text file, and DCIM packages
  • Layout drawing import
  • Pressure and temperature sensors
  • Variable-frequency drives on CRAC units
  • Scheduler (Batch processing)

Efficient and Accurate Solution Technique

TileFlow uses efficient and accurate solution technique for calculating the three-dimensional flow field and temperature distribution in data centers.

  • The technique of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is used for solving the equations governing the fluid flow and heat transfer in the data center.
  • Use of advanced solution techniques allows calculation of airflow and temperature distribution in practical data centers within a short time on a PC.
  • The calculated flow rates and rack inlet temperatures agree well (usually within 10%) with measured values.

The accuracy of the calculated results, the short turnaround times, and the ease-of-use make TileFlow an ideal tool for simulating cooling performance of data centers.

Comprehensive Reporting of Results

TileFlow provides a variety of formats, both graphical and text, for presenting the calculated results. The results are easy to understand. They provide a clear understanding of the cooling performance of the data center, help in identifying the regions with insufficient cooling and explaining the cause(s) of insufficient cooling, and give guidance for improving the cooling performance.

  • Color maps of airflow rates through the perforated tiles and associated cooling capacities
  • Contour plot of pressures and temperatures under the raised floor, overlaid with velocity vectors
  • Display of cooling plumes through the perforated tiles. This display can be in the form of fireworks, fountains, or arrows
  • Inspect tool to probe at a specific location
  • Results at a Glance for a quick summary of results
  • Detailed summary of results (Excel and text files)
  • Airflow rates through perforated tiles, rack inlet temperatures, and the supply and return temperatures of cooling units can be imported into Microsoft Excel
  • Temperature fog, which depicts the three-dimensional temperature distribution in the data center
  • Temperature/pressure distribution and airflow pattern on selected vertical and horizontal planes (billboards)
  • Pressure/temperature gage to display local pressure/temperature
  • Velocimeters to display local velocity components
  • Flashing lights to identify overheated racks
  • Air movement above the raised floor
  • Time plots for temperatures associated with racks and cooling units
  • Animations for transient results
  • Detailed temperature data for racks (maximum inlet and exhaust temperatures and temperatures at various elevations near the front face)
  • Return-air and supply temperatures for various cooling devices
  • Cooling provided by CRAC units, XDO units, XDV units, and in-row coolers
  • Rack temperature maps
  • Rack heat load distribution
  • Customizable PDF and HTML reports
  • Markup mode to annotate pictures
  • Tools to create movies in AVI and WMV formats
  • Video editor
  • High-resolution screen catpures

Sensor-Based Temperature Distribution

The deployment of temperature sensors is gaining popularity. The sensor temperatures can potentially be used to describe the thermal conditions in the data center and to make thermal-management decisions.

For these tasks, temperatures are needed throughout the data center. However, the number of sensor deployed is usually small. Thus, a interpolation scheme is needed to construct themperature distribution from limited number of sensor temperatures. Such a scheme is available in the sensor module in TileFlow.

The key features of this module are:

  • Excel import for sensor positions and temperatures
  • Visualization options for sensor positions and temperatures
  • Sensor thermometer to read sensor temperatures
  • Visualization tools for sensor-based temperature distribution