Cooling technology company Icetope claims its data-centre liquid cooling technology requires ‘a fraction’ of the energy required to maintain operating temperature compared with traditional air cooling.
Icetope’s technology seals each server blade in a specially engineered fluid, which is an improved successor to that used in the Cray computer, with the crucial difference that it is safer to handle and a non-ozone depleter. Because it is non-flammable and does not conduct electricity but convects heat twenty times more efficiently than water, components can be completely submerged.
A pump then transfers the heat-carrying fluid to the outside of the cabinet, where it can be siphoned off for other uses. This pump is the only moving part as the heat convection process itself is done naturally by the liquid – an immediate improvement on noisy, energy-wasting fans.
And because the fluid flows evenly throughout the system it uniformly cools and maintains a constant temperature, improving efficiency even further and reducing fatigue to the electronics that can effect their reliability.
Richard Barrington, business development director at data centre cooling specialist Iceotope, believes the efficiency gains are huge. He said: “The cost of cooling a data-centre is currently £1 for every £1 of energy consumed for operation. With liquid cooling this can be reduced to 3 pence.”
‘There is an arms race going on in the data centre cooling industry, with everybody from IBM to Fujitsu trying to do liquid now,’ he says. ‘Some individual PCs have started using liquid for performance and gaming, but the challenge is getting that up to scale, from eight to ten servers right up to the thousands in data centres at enterprise scale. That’s what we believe we’ve achieved.’
‘The liquid that is captured comes out at around 50 degrees celsius, and because it is a heat exchanger there are a range of options available for transferring it into water for other uses,’ says Barrington. ‘We’re talking to one customer about recycling greywater captured from gutters to pump around the building for heating.’
Unlike other liquid systems starting to emerge on the market which involve the servers sitting in open tanks, the Iceotope system is unique in that is is completely sealed and self-contained, meaning each server can be independently fed with power and cooling, and do not interact with the outside air.