Intel, 3M, SGI eye new data center coolant

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.

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