Optimizing Thermal Design of Data Center Cabinets with a New Multi-objective Genetic Algorithm


There is an ever increasing need to use optimization methods for thermal design of data centers and the hardware populating them. Airflow simulations of cabinets and data centers are computationally intensive and this problem is exacerbated when the simulation model is integrated with a design optimization method. Generally speaking, thermal design of data center hardware can be posed as a constrained multi-objective optimization problem. A popular approach for solving this kind of problem is to use Multi-Objective Genetic Algorithms (MOGAs). However, the large number of simulation evaluations needed for MOGAs has been preventing their applications to realistic engineering design problems. In this paper, details of a substantially more efficient MOGA are formulated and demonstrated through a thermal analysis simulation model of a data center cabinet. First, a reduced-order model of the cabinet problem is constructed using the Proper Orthogonal Decomposition (POD). The POD model is then used to form the objective and constraint functions of an optimization model. Next, this optimization model is integrated with the new MOGA. The new MOGA uses a "kriging" guided operation in addition to conventional genetic algorithm operations to search the design space for global optimal design solutions. This approach for optimal design is essential to handle complex multi-objective situations, where the optimal solutions may be non-obvious from simple analyses or intuition. It is shown that in optimizing the data center cabinet problem, the new MOGA outperforms a conventional MOGA by estimating the Pareto front using 50% fewer simulation calls, which makes its use very promising for complex thermal design problems.