[Beowulf] Servers Too Hot? Intel Recommends a Luxurious Oil Bath
deadline at eadline.org
Mon Sep 3 06:15:28 PDT 2012
There was a previous discussion here. Curious to see Intel's
interest in this tech. I assumed it is mostly used for edge cases.
> Servers Too Hot? Intel Recommends a Luxurious Oil Bath
> By Robert McMillan 08.31.12 4:51 PM
> You want to know a fast way to cool down a computer? Dunk it in a big tank
> mineral oil.
> Thatâs a technique that Intel has been testing out over the past year,
> running servers in little oil-filled boxes built by an Austin, Texas,
> called Green Revolution Cooling. As Gigaom reported on Friday, it turns
> that once you take out the PCâs fans and seal up the hard drives,
> a server works out pretty well.
> In its tests, Green Revolutionâs CarnotJet cooling system used a lot
> energy than their air-cooled counterparts, Dr. Mike Patterson, a power and
> thermal engineer with Intel, tells Wired. Intel found that oil-cooled
> only needed another 2 or 3 percent of their power for cooling. Thatâs
> less than your typical server, which has a 50 or 60 percent overhead. The
> worldâs most efficient data centers â those run by Google or Facebook,
> example â can get that number down to 10 or 20 percent.
> Intelâs research is part of a much larger effort to significantly reduce
> power consumption in the data center. Power is one of the most costly
> of data center operation, particularly if youâre running the sort of
> computing facilities that underpin web services as popular as Google or
> Although itâs still considered a cutting-edge technology, Green
> Cooling hopes to have a big effect on data centers. As Green
> director of marketing David Banys sees it, an oil-cooled data center could
> set up just about anywhere, cheaply. âThereâs no need for chillers;
> no need for raised floors,â he says. âYou can put our servers in a
> thatâs 110 degrees.â
> An oil-cooled motherboard. Photo: Intel
> Does that oil hurt the hardware in any way? After running the servers for
> year in its New Mexico data center, Intel popped them open them and found
> that the oil hadnât harmed things at all. In fact, because oil-cooled
> are kept at a common temperature, it may turn out that theyâre even more
> reliable than their air-cooled counterpart, Patterson says. But thatâs
> area for future research.
> There is a downside, though. If you need to pop open an oil-cooled server
> change a part, it can get a little messy. One of the Intel techs working
> the tests in the companyâs New Mexico data center brought in a change of
> clothes each day, just in case he needed to pull the plug, drain the oil,
> tinker with one of the systems.
> Green Revolution recommends an oil change every decade.
> Still, the CarnotJets are so power-efficient, that Patterson thinks that
> data-center set will eventually want to try them out. âIf and when
> manufacturers get around to doing this, then I think the adoption could be
> pretty reasonable,â he says.
> In addition to removing fans and sealing up hard drives â or switching
> servers to solid state drives, which have no moving parts â server
> also need to remove the conductive grease between the serverâs processor
> its heat sink, because it can leach out into the mineral oil, Intel says.
> According to Green Revolution Cooling, at least one server company is
> ready to ship this type of oil-bath-ready servers: SuperMicro. David Banys
> says that SuperMicro should be announcing its servers any day now.
> couldnât immediately be reached for comment.
> Watch the CarnotJet in action here:
> Top photo and video: Green Revolution Cooling
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