Friday, 1 March 2013

Leeds University Tests UK Company Iceotope’s Liquid-Cooled Servers

Iceotope has announced its first customer, having installed a next generation liquid-cooled server at the University of Leeds. The British firm has been working on its system for some years and plans to take part in a major shift as it believes data centres will have to move to liquid cooling to reduce their energy consumption in the near future.

After two years of testing prototypes, Iceotope has installed the first liquid-cooled production system at the university, where it is being assessed in a real-world environment. The Iceotope’s system essentially cools hot-running servers, sealed into a specially-made blade, by immersing them in liquid coolant solution. Heat is removed from the blade by circulating hot water past it within the system rack.

University examination

Iceotope claims to be able to reduce the energy consumption costs for server cooling by between 80 percent and 97 percent. The hot water produced can be re-used for other purposes including central heating.

The company designed and built the new server, working in partnership with a team of researchers led by Dr Jon Summers from the University of Leeds’ School of Mechanical Engineering.

Iceotope says that, because all the electronics are encapsulated in a sealed unit containing 3M’s dielectric coolant Novec as the inert coolant, it reduces the power consumed at a server level by eliminating the need for any fans. While the idea of immersing electronics in any liquid may seem strange, Novec can be in direct contact with electronics because it does not conduct electricity.

The Novec bath rapidly convects heat away from the electronics and then transfers it to water contained in a sealed low-pressure, gravity-fed subsystem. The water can then be passively cooled or used to provide hot water for other buildings, facilities or office spaces.

Liquid cooling is gaining traction in the industry. Last September, for example, Intel gave its blessing to the concept, after it approved the idea of a rival system from Green Revolution Cooling (GRC), after a one year trial.

Google also uses liquid cooling in its data centres, and Sun founder Scott McNeally has backed another immersion advocate LiquidCool (formerly Hardcore Computing).