Intel officials were impressed with Green Revolution Cooling's CarnoJet System after housing servers for a year in mineral oil.
Intel officials have ended a yearlong test in which they submerged servers
in mineral oil as a way to keep the systems cool, and they reportedly are happy
with the results.
The giant chip maker immersed the servers in the mineral oil developed by a
company called Green Revolution Cooling, whose CarnoJet System
to keep servers running much cooler than traditional air-cooling technologies.
According to Green Revolution Cooling officials, the CarnoJet System can reduce
power consumption related to cooling in a data center by as much as 95 percent,
and the total energy consumed by half.
Data center power and cooling costs are significant concerns to
organizations, so any technology that can drive down the costs is going to draw
some interest. Having a top-tier technology vendor such as Intel say good
things about it doesn't hurt, either.
Mike Patterson, senior power and thermal architect at Intel, told technology
news site GigaOm
that Green Revolution's technology seems safe for servers
and their components, and that it appears to do the job of driving down the
amount of heat generated and power consumed by the machines.
According to Patterson, server racks that are cooled by traditional air
technologies operate with a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.6,
while the PUE rating for Intel servers that were submerged in Green Revolution's
GreenDEF mineral oil coolant were between 1.02 and 1.03. The PUE is a metric
used to measure the energy efficiency of systems by looking at the amount of
power needed to run the server and the amount of power to cool it. The closer
to 1 that score is, the better. To reach close to 1 through traditional air-
and liquid-cooling technologies would cost a lot of money and require
significant innovation, Intel's Patterson said.
He also noted that being immersed in the mineral oil did not damage the
server or its various components, from hard drives to processors. After the
yearlong immersion test ended, Intel sent the systems to its labs for analysis,
which "came back with a thumbs-up that a year in the oil bath had no ill
effects on anything they can see," Patterson told GigaOm.
Power and cooling costs increasingly have become key issues for
organizations, particularly those with massive, highly dense data centers that
run massive numbers of workloads. Data center infrastructure vendors and chip
makers alike are continuously looking for new ways to increase the efficiency
of their products, and businesses have embraced a growing
range of cooling options
, from traditional air and water solutions to the
use of outdoor air to the idea of allowing data centers to run hotter than has
been done in the past.
Green Revolution has been working on its technology for several years. In
the CarnoJet System, the servers are put into the GreenDEF mineral oil, which
is designed to absorb the heat created by the machines. The heated coolant is
then drawn by a pump module, where it's then filtered and cooled before being
put back into rack systems housing the servers. Green Revolution offers server
racks of 10U (17.5 inches), 42U (73.5 inches) and 60U (105 inches).
Now that the yearlong immersive test is done, it's still unclear whether
Intel will adopt the Green Revolution technology for its own data centers.
According to Patterson, the company is still in the evaluation phase, seeing
how housing the systems in the coolant impacts performance and other metrics.
He also said that the idea of immersing data center systems in coolant might
find faster acceptance among C-level executives-who are the ones paying the
bills-than with data center administrators, who may be more worried about
housing their servers in mineral oil.