Calibrating a CFD model against measured data is the first step to successfully utilizing this technology for change-management and the optimization of an existing data center. To date, there has been very little published on this calibration process; more focus has been placed on the use of CFD at the design stage and the development of modeling techniques and solvers. Further, few studies which feature comprehensive comparisons of CFD-predicted and measured data have been published for real data centers, and many that have, demonstrated only modest agreement at best. This study provides another such comparison — for a 7,400 ft2 (687 m2), 138-rack, raised-floor facility. The goals of the study are to benchmark the level of agreement that can be practically obtained and also to investigate the level of modeling detail required. Additionally, specific practical advice covering both CFD modeling and experimental measurements is provided. A plenum-only CFD model is compared to measured tile airflow rates and a room-model, which uses measured tile flow rates as boundary conditions, is compared to temperatures measured at each rack inlet. The level of agreement is among the best published to date and demonstrates that a CFD model can be adequately calibrated against measured data and is of value for ongoing data center operation.

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