Intel Blesses Submerged Cooling For Datacenter Servers

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News Posted: Tue, Sep 4 2012 1:39 PM
When it comes to computing in general, cooling is hugely important, but in the data center, it’s paramount. Keeping oceans of servers and networking equipment cool is no picnic. Almost every aspect of the data center, from higher-efficiency components to clever flooring to geographical location are geared toward cooling efforts.

Intel has been busy testing a new way to keep servers cool: submersion in liquid. The company has been working with Green Revolution Cooling on submersion testing for about a year, and apparently the results have been solid.

Intel submerged servers

Liquid cooling, of course, has been part of both enthusiast computer builds and datacenter cooling setups for a long time, but immersion is a different story, and Intel sees these “submerged servers” as something that could be broadly adopted in the HPC market soon.

The liquid used is actually mineral oil; apparently, mineral oil conducts heat about as well as water does but doesn’t conduct electricity. It’s also safe, complying with health and safety standards such as the Clean Water Act, although it’s reportedly rather messy to work with.

Green Revolution Cooling racks
Green Revolution Cooling racks

How effective can liquid submersion cooling be? According to Green Revolution, it’s efficient enough that it could obviate the need for raised flooring, chillers, or AC units, which could cut both infrastructure and energy costs. Further, it could open up more possibilities for retrofitting currently inefficient data centers and help relieve the need to hunt for ideal geological areas in which to build new ones.
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Erakith replied on Tue, Sep 4 2012 1:57 PM

This is fantastic news. I've enjoyed watching people build their own submersed builds for a while now and alternate cooling methods are awesome. Now we have it on a large scale, and I'm glad to see Intel put their stamp of approval on it. Awesome!

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JHooper replied on Tue, Sep 4 2012 2:10 PM

I heard people discussing doing this a decade or more ago when the Ghz barrier still hadn't been broken in order to over clock their CPUs. I can't see doing this at home on a standard build.

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lipe123 replied on Tue, Sep 4 2012 2:33 PM

Of course its too heavy for home use, unless you never ever plan to move your PC and don't need to work on the hardware much.

Great idea for servers in data centers tho. Just cutting the noise from the air con's would already be a plus.

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Erm, i thought fully submerged desktops have been around for some time now? From Hardcore Computers?

Having it for servers and being totally fine with Intel and their warranty is the great part :)

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This looks like it will sure be a step in the right direction as far as cooling, and system noise goes! :D

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karanm replied on Tue, Sep 4 2012 7:47 PM

I've worked in bio labs where mineral oil is readily available, is this the same stuff? I know its non conductive but i didn't know its thermal properties. Very interesting.

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Very cool (no pun intended). This has definitely been around for a while but Intel being OK with it just makes it awesome.

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