The future of data centre cooling

Feb 23, 2024

Data centres hold the key to our digital future. They play a critical role in modern computing infrastructure, supporting various services including cloud computing, web hosting, data storage, and processing for a wide range of applications and users. Essential for organisations that rely on IT infrastructure to operate their businesses, including technology companies, financial institutions, and even government agencies, data centres are becoming more advanced, and so are the systems relied upon to cool them. 

Cooling systems account for nearly 40% of total data centre energy consumption on average, therefore proving precision, reliability, and energy efficiency are core to product selection. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) requiring high-performance computing infrastructure, scalable storage, and specialised hardware, liquid cooling solutions are reaching prominence. 

With this in mind, we spoke to Alessandro Zerbetto, Global Offering Manager Floor Mount at Vertiv, about the evolution of the market, the current challenges involved in cooling data centres, liquid cooling, the impact of AI, the future of the sector, and the advantages of certifying products under the Eurovent Certified Performance programme for Precision Cooling (ITCU).   


What have been the big changes in data centres over the last 5 to 10 years? 

Alessandro Zerbetto: Ten years ago, the main need for data centre operators was energy efficiency and a rapid deployment. The reasons behind this were aimed at reducing operating expenses, while having the data centre running in the shortest time possible. The result was a solid business plan for stakeholders and a profitable investment.

More recently, the data centre industry is seeing all this from another standpoint. Data centres consume huge amounts of energy and therefore energy efficiency remains a must, as it brings lower running costs and a lower environmental impact. Together with this, a big change the data centre industry is facing is the need to use liquid cooling solutions for high-density racks, due to the rapid growth of AI-based computing.

How have those changes pushed you to increase the efficiency of your existing units, or create new series/product types? 

Alessandro Zerbetto: Energy efficiency is strictly related to the energy consumption of the units, so reducing consumption is the primary way to make money savings and to reduce indirect carbon emissions overall. While we have developed new products recently, we have always had energy efficiency as one of the priorities in our design process. Most importantly, controls play a big role at system level to ensure single units contribute to the highest energy efficiency possible. So, when units are teamworking, the role of a system control is to take the best from each unit’s behaviour.

What product types are now the most in demand? Have you seen market requirements shift, and if yes, what do you relate this trend to? 

Alessandro Zerbetto: After years of relatively static rack densities, data centre operators are increasingly requesting higher-density racks for high-performance computing on the way to AI implementation. When multiple servers are packed into an equipment rack to minimize processing latency, rack densities reach levels traditional data centre design practices do not support. To overcome this limit, liquid cooling solutions are more frequently being implemented in cooling systems, transitioning from traditional air cooling.

Today, the most in demand products are chilled-water air-cooling solutions (chillers + air handlers), that are ready for liquid cooling layouts.

What are your predictions for the evolution of data centre cooling with liquid cooling or hybrid technologies? What are the main challenges for such applications? 

Alessandro Zerbetto: Artificial intelligence is now, high-density is now, liquid cooling is now. Liquid- and air-cooling systems can coexist in hybrid data centres to achieve optimum cooling for a wide range of rack densities. The process of integrating liquid cooling into a legacy air-cooled data centre requires careful planning to effectively balance the capabilities of the two systems, mitigating risks and minimising the disruption of adding liquid cooling into the data centre itself.

What is the impact of AI on the market? Is it a big challenge to cool AI infrastructure? What are Vertiv solutions for AI trends? 

Alessandro Zerbetto: AI is not new to some segments of the data centre industry. AI models for language, imaging and voice generation computing were developed in high-performance computing (HPC) environments that rely on central and graphic processing unit chipsets with thermal design power (TDP) that far exceeds standard chipsets. For this reason, cooling AI infrastructure is challenging to enable effective thermal management in high-density zones and liquid cooling is required.
Vertiv has a long history of supporting high-density computing environments and has the breadth of solutions and depth of expertise to take a holistic approach to high-density computing in new or legacy facilities. Solutions from our range of Eurovent certified products include our Vertiv™ Liebert® PCW air handlers.

Vertiv has products certified under the Eurovent Certified Performance programme for Precision Cooling (ITCU). What advantages does product certification bring to Vertiv? 

Alessandro Zerbetto: Product certification is a third-party guarantee of product performances. All standard products tested at accredited laboratories assigned by Eurovent Certita Certification, have certified and reliable performances. 

Whenever the application requires highly customized solutions, then it is also possible for us to provide reliable performances at conditions other than the standard ones, where unit can operate. The Eurovent Certified Performance programme for Precision Cooling includes software certification, which enables thermal tests at non-standard conditions (and/or with allowable component options) selected via the certified software.

This test-based approach is a valuable plus for the customer. Indeed, everything that’s a benefit for our customers, in turn highly qualifies our product portfolio. 

Your final thoughts?

Alessandro Zerbetto: As mentioned, rapid growth in the deployment of AI-capable computing, along with the pressure to reduce energy costs, consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions, are the dominant market drivers in the data centre industry in 2024. These trends are expected to accelerate the adoption of liquid cooling solutions. In fact, liquid cooling solutions are already on their way to being integrated into traditional air cooling solutions, in hybrid data centres.

Thank you very much for your time Alessandro.


The demands of AI and our increasing reliance on the digital world are changing how we cool data centres. Certified manufacturers such as Vertiv are at the forefront of this change, and we look forward to evolving our certification programmes in line with industry demands and new technologies, such as those discussed in this article. If you wish to have your say on the future of our Precision Cooling (ITCU) programme, please contact Mustafa Dilsen.

You can find Vertiv’s products online via the Eurovent Certified Product Directory.

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Data Centre World 2024

Vertiv will be joining Eurovent Certification at Data Centre World at the ExCel London, for a presentation on data centre cooling at 2.45pm on Wednesday 6th March. Join us for Cooling the future with Eurovent: VERTIV and DAIKIN Applied Certified Solutions for Data Centre Excellence in the Energy Efficiency, Cost Management & DCIM Theatre. 

Data Centre World is the UK's leading data centre event. This year’s show sees Eurovent Certification sponsor the Energy Efficiency, Cost Management & DCIM Theatre and take up residence in the exhibition area at stand D1220.

Check out the conference programme and book your free ticket at