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Iceotope – liquid cool your computers

Friday, July 24, 2015

By liquid cooling your high performance computers, you can get a lot more computer processing power for the same space and cooling power, reckons UK company Iceotope.

By liquid cooling your high performance computers, you can get a lot more computer processing power for the same space and cooling power, reckons UK company Iceotope.

Iceotope has developed a liquid cooled computing infrastructure which the company believes makes it much cheaper to cool a room of high performance computers.

The oil and gas industry is no stranger to liquid cooling of course, but it has not been used extensively for cooling its vast estates of supercomputers necessary for oil exploration.

As computers have more powerful CPUs and bigger memory footprints, Iceotope believes that we are reaching the limits of the amount of cooling which traditional air-cooled computer designs of today can handle.

So high performance computing system operators will be looking for ways to increase performance density without increasing the corresponding energy use.

Some oil and gas explorationists are starting to use liquid cooled supercomputing clusters, Iceotope says. CGG is reported to be using liquid cooled computers in one of its data centres.

In a liquid cooled environment, performance enhancements can be more easily achieved as the CPUs can run at their maximum frequency for sustained periods of time without failure from overheating, Iceotope says.

Iceotope can cool up to 60kW per rack and provide 40.8% better performance per Watt compared to air cooling, the company says.

University of Leeds

An Iceotope system has been installed at the University of Leeds' School of Mechanical Engineering, where a number of PhD students and researchers specialising in thermofluids and cooling are using of the system.

Dr Jon Summers, a senior researcher in Leeds' Institute of Thermofluids, noted that the liquids can carry on cooling for much longer than air in the event of any power disruption.

Dr Summers found that the system required 88 per cent less cooling power than the previous indirect liquid cooling system the Institute was using. It could capture 89 per cent of the energy at 45 C which could be used for building heating elsewhere.

The system

The liquid cooled servers look like any other air-cooled computer, except the systems have no fans, so are nearly silent in operation.

There are various sorts of liquid cooling for servers. With "indirect" cooling, the server is cooled by air, and then the air is cooled by water. With "direct" cooling, the liquid is circulated directly around specific components, the rest cooled by air. With "total" liquid cooling, all active components are cooled by liquid.

Iceotope offers 'total' liquid cooling.

The technology utilises two different coolant loops.

Each blade computer is sealed and immersed in a special fluid (the 'primary' coolant), based on Solvay and 3M products, which flows around the computer via natural thermal convection.

The heat from the primary coolant is absorbed in a secondary bespoke coolant, which has twice the heat capacity of mineral oil and very low viscosity.

Heat from the secondary coolant can be transferred to hot water if required, and used in the building central heating system. This has already been successfully implemented in some Iceotope installations.

Associated Companies
» Iceotope
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