Skip to Content
Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Henkel Adhesive Technologies

How advanced materials help slow runaway data center costs

Learn how specifying advanced materials in circuit board construction can help stem rising costs in limited IT budgets.
5 min.
A picture of a phone transmitter antenna.

Data centers are swallowing IT budgets

Data center costs are outpacing IT budgets. A McKinsey study shows that budgets are increasing 6% per year while data center costs — a quarter of IT corporate budgets — are increasing 20% per year. A typical data center spends between $10 million and $25 million (USD) in operating expense; an annual operating increase of $2 million to $5 million is unsustainable.

Some general calculations illustrate how quickly those costs can eat profitability. With those growth rates, a Year 1 IT budget of $10 million with data center costs of $2.5 million (25%) will become a $12.6 million IT budget and a data center budget of $6.1 million (48%) in Year 5.

Clearly, finding efficiencies to control that growth is vital for corporate financial health.

Total IT budget

Data Center portion

IT change

Data Center change

Data Center % of IT

Year 1




Year 2






Year 3






Year 4






Year 5






(Figures are in thousands)

Clearly, finding efficiencies to control that growth is vital for corporate financial health.

The burdens of IT success

The financial pressures on IT are only made worse by its growing importance. IT is increasingly strategic, whether it’s the need for enhanced business analytics, advanced application deployment, cloud connectivity, or work-from-home access. Bandwidth demand continues to be robust; by one estimate from Cisco, there will be three times the number of IP-connected devices in 2023 than there are people on Earth. Fixed broadband speed in 2023 will be 2.4 times what it was in 2018, and cellular speeds in 2023 will be more than triple the 2018 rate.

As that demand increases, so does the requirement for increased reliability and durability. One way to satisfy those demands, which dovetails with the cost-savings mandate, is by making data centers smaller and with a higher density of servers and bandwidth. Denser data centers not only reduce operational budgets, but capital budgets as well; they are less expensive per bit to build and to run.

How advanced materials can help control data center costs

Thermal management and durability improvements made possible by advanced underfills, bonding materials, and solder materials help save capital expense while boosting the performance and reliability of data center components.

This illustration shows how advanced materials can be used throughout a circuit board design to help optimize the performance and reliability of the components they use.

Rendered graphic of a line card with multiple heatsinks inserted over a transparent background.
Micro thermal interface coatings

Ultra-thin and durable, Bergquist® micro thermal interface coatings provide effective heat transfer between pluggable optical modules (POMs) and their riding heat sinks. The materials help reduce heat at a rate of 0.33° C per watt, as much as 5° C for a 15-watt module like those found in 400 Gb designs for high-speed switching and routing systems.

Phase change materials

Larger, high-performance Layer 1/Layer 2 ASIC and/FPGA devices must effectively dissipate heat for proper function. Bergquist® phase change materials are the optimal solution, providing a mess-free alternative to thermal grease.

Thermal gel

One-part, liquid formable gel materials provide a balance between process flexibility, low component stress and high-reliability thermal performance. Dispensable for high-volume manufacturing, thermal gels are available in thermal conductivities up to 6.0 W/m-K, and provide a range of attributes including low volatility, high vertical gap stability, and reliability in challenging environments.

Thermally conductive adhesives

Bergquist® and LOCTITE® thermally conductive adhesives are designed to provide excellent heat dissipation for thermally sensitive components. They are available in self-shimming and non-self-shimming options to satisfy application-specific requirements and ease of use.


Underfills offer improved mechanical integrity and reliability for fine-pitch array components and certain IC components. Available in reworkable and non-reworkable formulations, underfills effectively protect component interconnects with low bump heights.

Thermal GAP PAD® materials

Low-modulus, high-conductivity Bergquist® GAP PAD® materials provide excellent conformability and low-stress thermal performance for IC devices not requiring a larger heat sink attachment.

The limiting factor for number of servers in a data center is either power or cooling, both of which also represent significant operating expense. Using advanced materials to enhance thermal management on servers, routers, and switches provides a huge upside in scale, performance, and cost reduction.


IT is a strategic corporate expense, but its cost structure threatens profitability. It’s vital that IT departments control costs while improving service and satisfying demand for bandwidth and data center resources. Small changes in the materials used in manufacturing data center servers will help drive significant savings in capital and operating expense in data centers, breaking the cycle of data center costs outpacing IT budgets.