Intel and SGI trial submerging servers in liquid to cool them

By Scorpus ยท 23 replies
Apr 9, 2014
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  1. Intel and SGI have been trialing a new method of cooling servers and supercomputers that involves submerging them completely in liquid. This cooling solution doesn't rely on water though, as its properties would damage components, instead opting for a dielectric...

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    misor likes this.
  2. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,285   +243

    misspelled 'contact'.
    wow, cutting electric bills by over 90%. if this technology flows unto consumer computer systems, high-end NVidia and AMD gpu users, rejoice! your cooling systems have been boosted.
  3. nazartp

    nazartp TS Enthusiast Posts: 178   +12

    The idea is quite old. Using Novec is new. There are server farms using submerged cooling with mineral oil (the one found as cooling agent in electric transformers) acting as cooling agent. Currently the problem is with the microchips surviving about 2-3 years before the oil leaks inside.

    Honestly think submerged cooling is the future.
    misor likes this.
  4. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    If some people are stupid enough to waste $1500 on an electricity guzzling graphics card just to play computer games I doubt energy conservation means a hellava lot to them.
    misor likes this.
  5. Arwed

    Arwed TS Rookie

    Idea is nice, but how practical is it to first remove and later add again 'water' into your server case (got to be 100% leakfree..) after maintenance ? Usage cost will be too high, too.
  6. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 719   +236

    Totally not how it works, the hardware doesn't go into a regular case at all. Think swimming pool with racks inside it where the hardware mounts.

    Makes loads of sense because currently the entire room is cooled by powerful air conditioners to a very low temp and inspite of all the the actual internal components of the servers still get pretty hot.

    Being able to just cool only the hardware instead of the entire building makes a ton of sense.
    RenGood08 likes this.
  7. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,045   +680

    This is pretty cool. Those engineers at Intel...
  8. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    I do not know why this is called a new tech, the University of Texas at Austin has a heavy server that is submerged in liquid already and has been for years...

    Heck my roommate from college made a fish tank computer for his gaming rig 5 years ago, so I really would not count this as anything new lol.

    The solution being used is the newer part of this experiment, but the principle remains the same as with the other solutions already in place.
  9. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    Cut costs by 90%... that is crazy.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,256   +454

    Pretty cool... but servers are already heavy enough as it is. They are going to start weighing a lot more if this happens. Not to mention I suppose they would now need water tight chassis so the liquid doesn't spill out when you move them for maintenance. This would be a huge change in the layout of components though because everything is placed specifically for efficient air cooling.
  11. Mr Majestyk

    Mr Majestyk TS Enthusiast Posts: 44   +18

    This is a very old idea and certainly not Inte's. I saw a TV immersed in dielectric liquid 20 years ago and it was still working fine.
  12. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,045   +680

    I'm well aware the idea is not new, but the potential result is.
  13. TheLastPanda

    TheLastPanda TS Member Posts: 78   +10

    I wouldn't call it stupid. Many people spend more than that adding one or two options to their car and I could 10/10 get more fun from a 295x than a sun roof. And energy conservation at a consumer level really doesn't mean much (unless you are mining coins on thin margins) but the possibility of components designed to be submerged could mean a lot. Cooler, quieter, and dust free pc experiences are all things consumers will continue to pay for. PC's submerged in mineral oil show up now and again, and I believe I read Razors protect Christine will utilize mineral oil in its modular chambers. This is the same concept but less home grown so it may get more traction in the future.
  14. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    1500 smackers to play computer games? C'mon man, there are far better and important things in life to spend that kind of money on. You'd think that I don't play computer games or I'm against them, nothing could be further from the truth, I love computer games just as much as the next guy, it's just that spending money on a GFX card that costs so much and is to all intents and purposes just about obsolete already boggles my mind.
  15. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,025   +2,557


    Special features - Cray 2

  16. TheLastPanda

    TheLastPanda TS Member Posts: 78   +10

    Well if you run open cl programs like blender, AND play games, this could give you an interesting option. You could have a workstation level pc that is optimized for games. I've had my pc for about 3/4 of a year and after upgrading the gpu and cooling I've still spent less than 1.5k but I don't think it's that out of the question.

    If you just game, it's impractical but if pc's and pc building is your hobby, then things like that are a dream to own. People that buy this will probably be the type to put it on a shelf somewhere when it's retired as a cool decoration/conversation peice. Hobbies are seldom practical anyway. I also dislike it when the community bashes the people who buy high end stuff because they, along with early adopters, allow us casuals to enjoy a growing market.

    You also said it's about obsolete already. Is that a general comment on how pc hardware never stays bleeding edge for long, or is that specifically referring to the 295x being behind competition?
  17. RenGood08

    RenGood08 TS Booster Posts: 185   +13

    This is some pretty incredible stuff. Airtight cases would be a priority. Maybe having some cool sleek design to make it more efficient to run maintenance on the maybe a rack that is motorized to move up and down without causing any harm to the machines...probable you think?
  18. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    High end hi tech hardware parts are a bad investment for consumers, you can never recoup your loss. While the purchase of hi tech gadgets is a must for many, I believe you spend as little as possible as you can get away with on them. It's my opinion only.
  19. TheLastPanda

    TheLastPanda TS Member Posts: 78   +10

    It is way beyond me, but I think having a relatively clean room and filtering the liquid for impurities between pumping it out to cool it and putting it back in would be much simpiler/more efficient than an air tight system. As for maintenance that is so far beyond me I can't even venture a guess
  20. Don't think it's a energy saving issue but rather a performance gain issue.
  21. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +422

    Seems like a lot of you didn't read the article, especially the guest directly above me. They specifically mention energy savings in the article, no where in the article is performance mentioned.
    TheLastPanda likes this.
  22. RenGood08

    RenGood08 TS Booster Posts: 185   +13's an interesting idea. I like thinking outside the box...but ya's gotta be practical. =)
  23. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +422

    @RenGood08 - Filtering of fluids is an established practice (see: automobiles), I don't think it is a stretch at all to be able to filter impurities from this specific fluid. Now if it is more cost effective... I don't know.
  24. RenGood08

    RenGood08 TS Booster Posts: 185   +13

    I apologize for my vague response. I was meaning more towards a means to run maintenance on the servers by a physical means if necessary. A motorized rack that goes up and down. I've read through these comments and found out its not a new method on my own time. =D

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