Intel, 3M, SGI eye new data center coolant

Intel, 3M, SGI eye new data center coolant

Summary: 3M's Novec fluid combined with two-phase immersion cooling could shrink data center footprints and consume a lot less energy. A proof-of-concept supercomputer will be tested this month.

novec cooling
Is this the data center cooling system of the future? Credit: 3M


twophase immersion
Credit: Allied Control

Intel and SGI have teamed up on a supercomputer that uses a coolant from 3M that's designed to minimize water consumption and harvest heat for other uses.

The supercomputer will be evaluated in April and the Naval Research Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs and APC by Schneider Electric will deploy the system to demonstrate viability.

Specifically, the proof-of-concept supercomputer, the SGI ICE X powered by Intel's Xeon processor E5-2600, is placed directly into 3M's Novec Engineered Fluid. Novec keeps hardware cool without generating much additional energy.

According to 3M, a supercomputer submerged in Novec needs 10 times less space and eliminate air conditioning requirements that go with liquid cooling. In addition, components can be packaged tighter.

There are a few companies specializing in immersion cooling with Novec. For instance, Allied Control has deployed Novec cooling systems in Asia where a data center in Hong Kong was build in a high rise building with a small footprint.

Nevertheless, immersion cooled data centers aren't exactly the norm, but should Intel, SGI and 3M prove the immersion cooling technique can scale with costs in line with traditional systems that situation will change in a hurry.

More data center reading:

Topics: Data Centers, Hardware, Servers

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  • looks pretty cool

    Immersed machines in the future? That just almost passively cool? That would be awesome for datacenters!
  • Sounds almost like the old cray YMP...

    Using flourinert... could use a water heat exchanger (advantage - small space) or air cooling (advantage - cheap).
  • OOoo :)

    Now, give me some to mess with in my home computer label so I cna finally build a submersed PC :D
  • Immersion Cooling vs Hot Swapping

    I just picture when you're in too big a hurry and try to throw something in the front loading washer after it got started...
    Robert Crocker
  • Immersion Cooling

    We have been using immersion cooling for several years here at LiquidCool Solutions. We have also used Novec in our systems, as well as other dielectric coolants. We have found that Novec performs extremely well across a wide range of temperatures. However, it is very expensive and it is very heavy.

    And yes, Cray Research was using phase change material back in the late 1990's. Their SV-1 was based off from spray-cooling and return condensation.
    • Goes back even earlier... Cray 2 used flourinert in 1985

      And nearly all cooling (except air) used a "phase change" for cooling - from water/ ammonia on.

      What was different with flourinert was the ability to directly immerse the electronics in the fluid - thus using conduction cooling. And then the "waterfall" to provide continuous degassing of the flourinert (bubbles were a killer - they are insulators that allow heat buildup in spots - which would then melt the semiconductors causing more bubbles - and a bit of chemical changes (contamination) of the flourinert that increased its conductivity...
      • Purely non-conductive fluid?

        Did they wring out all conductivity at the micro level or just low enough that circuits aren't affected. Assuming all the hardware components would need to be built around the fluids inherent electrical properties.

        Heck of a balancing act the chemists need to perform. You could easily push the equation to a point of impeding current flow and slow the cores down.
        Tired Tech
  • Can Sterilize Too

    Dental and Tattoo tools will come out germ free ;)
    Tired Tech