Berkeley Lab likes liquid cooled datacenters

Keeping a 40-year old datacenter relevant

In a presentation at this week’s Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s 2013 Data Center Efficiency Summit, Henry Coles, Program Manager at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory spoke about how impressed his organization was with the results of liquid-cooled-datacenter servers in a six-month study done with equipment provided by Intel, Cisco, and Asetek.

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Looking to improve the efficiency and lifespan of their 40-year-old, 5600 square-foot datacenter, Berkeley Lab’s Energy Environment Technologies Division team has been working with industry partners to evaluate appropriate technologies, the most recent of which was the project on Direct-to-Chip liquid cooling. Their project evaluated using the Asetek RackCDU D2C liquid-cooled-processor technology without any additional support — basically just plugging these racks into their existing water supply, as opposed to a full datacenter conversion to the technology, and evaluating the results.

Direct Chip Cooling project team Image: Berkeley Labs


They study was conducted over six months, with the liquid-cooled cluster running their usual mix of scientific and research computational analysis on the vendor supplied servers using the liquid cooling technology. They also opened up the project to other scientists looking to run their computations on the Berkeley Lab systems.

The results of the study showed an energy savings in the 16-24 percent range. The air-cooled datacenter was already running at a fairly efficient PUE of 1.45, so Asetek expects that in less-efficient facilities, the savings would be even more significant. Mr. Coles expressed surprise that the energy savings were achievable by adding the rack cooling to the existing water supply, rather than requiring any special consideration.