Intel Blesses Submerged Cooling For Datacenter Servers

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.