IBM Delivers Innovative Water Cooling System For Datacenters

IBM Delivers Innovative Water Cooling System For Datacenters

Through a project known as Aquasar, IBM researchers are working on new technologies that could drastically reduce the power consumption and carbon footprint of data centers. Aquasar involves a water-cooled supercomputer that uses 40% less energy than comparable systems that use today's air-conditioned methods.In addition to saving energy, Aquasar takes the waste heat it pulls from servers and uses the heat to help warm nearby offices. By combining these energy savings, a company's carbon footprint can be reduced by as much as 85%.

The Aquasar project began one year ago as part of IBM's First-Of-A-Kind (FOAK) program. Recently, IBM delivered its first-of-a-kind hot water-cooled supercomputer to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich). The actual project is part of a three-year collaboration between IBM and ETH Zurich.

The supercomputer uses special water-cooled IBM BladeCenter Servers. Aquasar also holds additional air-cooled IBM BladeCenter servers. In total, the system achieves a performance of six Teraflops and has an energy efficiency of about 450 megaflops per watt. Additionally, nine kilowatts of thermal power are directed into the ETH Zurich's building heating system.

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"With Aquasar we achieved an important milestone on the way to CO2-neutral data centers," said Dr. Bruno Michel, manager of Advanced Thermal Packaging at IBM Research – Zurich.  "The next step in our research is to focus on the performance and characteristics of the cooling system which will be measured with an extensive system of sensors, in order to optimize it further."

The Aquasar system uses micro-channel liquid coolers that are attached directly to the processors. Thanks to this chip-level cooling, the thermal resistance between the processor and the water is reduced to the point that water temperatures of up to 60 degrees C still enable the processors to stay well below the maximally allowed 85 degrees C temperature.

"With Aquasar, we make an important contribution to the development of sustainable high performance computers and computer system. In the future it will be important to measure how efficiently a computer is per watt and per gram of equivalent CO2 production," said Prof. Dimos Poulikakos, head of the Laboratory of Thermodynamics in New Technologies, ETH Zurich.

IBM isn't currently marketing Aquasar in any of its commercial products, but it's probably safe to assume that the company will integrate this development into its portfolio in the years to come.

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nice, cool you computer and keep you warm with the heat generated .

( I usally just point the exhaust holes of my computer at me so i guess this is a step up some) 

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Isn't that what most computer do anyway?

Anyway, I commend IBM for turning a lot of supercomputers into their own air conditioning system.

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Yea but this set up is directing the heat though the building so that it doesnt stay near the computer and helps warm the building

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This actually impacts a lot of things in a data center. I would think the first would be reliability and cost. In a data center especially a large one (and I have worked in many), the temperature is generally 65 at max and many times 60-. Think about the cost's of keeping an open room 100x100 yards with 40 foot ceilings full of servers,data centers, and personnel as well as thousands of data cable runs. This is very expensive!

So a efficient system like this is a good advance I would think for many avenues in the IT industry. The costs are also shouldered by consumers now that everything goes digital at one point or another. This also lowers energy consumption in many ways across the board as it also moves the heat from one area where it is unnecessary, to another where it is, and therefore further utilizes energy resources to lower cost and consumption of energy.

I would also assume it makes equipment last longer, although as fast as technology moves today I don't know how positive that will be in reality.

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I got my Rig water cooled been this way for 4 years now. I did more so for the noise than the heat and overclocking headroom. I would not want to go back to air, although at Intels current rate we may not need a headsink at all much less water.

This should still quiet down those noisy data centers, I don't know about the energy savings, time will tell.

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That's pretty awesome. Good use of all that excess heat.

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Good idea here.

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