Ultimate Cooling Method for Servers? Green Revolution Cooling’s Way for Cooling Servers

When we consider cooling at data centers, we are combating symptoms but not getting at the root cause. The high-density transistors in the CPUs of IT equipment like servers generate extensive heat. One of APC’s white papers states that only 1% of the electricity given to a server is used to power it, and the remaining 99% is converted to heat. Unless we can change the way CPUs are made (multicore is one such attempt), we need to deal with heat.

At this week’s Data Center World conference, several speakers used the same reasoning to argue that pinpointed cooling is better than cooling the entire data center. When we bring groceries home from the store, we do not leave them on the kitchen counter and lower the room temperature to under 40 °F. Instead, we put the groceries in the refrigerator—a purpose-built container for cooling food and other things. So why not apply the same idea to cooling IT equipment? Several ideas have been presented, including hot/cold aisle separation, in-row cooling, rack-based cooling, aisle containment, and the container-based data center. Some companies have experimented with liquid-cooling CPUs. In a previous conference, Christian Belady of Microsoft suggested making a server that cools each part—CPU, memory, and disk. He countered the comment that doing so would raise server costs to $100K by saying that it could cut the total cooling cost by a million dollars. Is there any middle ground here?

At the conference, I bumped into representatives of Green Revolution Cooling. Their solution is unique. As shown in the following pictures, they dump servers into dielectric fluid (GreenDEF) coolant. The system in the picture is only for exhibition purposes, and their real system is called CarnotJet. Their system is further described on their website. 


Side view


Top view

They claim:

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Data Replication: Making Sense of the Options
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For years high-powered electrical transformers, supercomputers, and over-clocked gaming computers have harnessed the power of dielectric fluid submersion for high performance. However, this performance has required a tradeoff in the form of higher costs and/or cooling power compared to traditional air cooling methods. GR Cooling is the first to develop a complete cooling and server rack solution that offers drastically lower upfront costs, low energy use, and high performance.

I asked a few questions of Andy Price, director of business development. You need to prepare your servers for this process by removing fans and encasing disk drives. One OEM (a server vendor) is working on further testing with GR Cooling. According to the vendor, oil-based cooling has been used since the 1920s. But it is certainly strange to see an entire server dumped into oil. But if it really works at a reasonable cost, it catches and refuses heat very efficiently by capturing heat where it is created, and it does not send the captured heat to any other part of the data center.

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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