For the past seven years, power management technology company ISR has been selling its SprayCool product to government agencies looking to reduce the heat generated by their servers.
Now, with rising power and cooling costs becoming a growing concern among corporate data centers, the Liberty Lake, Wash., company is hoping enterprises will take to spraying a fine mist onto servers.
ISRs technology uses an inert liquid, dubbed SprayCoolant, to cool processors in a server and remove the heat from the system without letting it escape into the data center. The coolant evaporates once it hits electronic hot spots.
ISR has been trying to woo server OEMs in hopes that they will offer the SprayCool technology with their systems, while at the same time formulating a product road map that will grow the reach of the technology by expanding the types of hardware and components it can cool, said Patchen Noelke, ISRs director of marketing.
“The strategy over the last year has been to [target] a commercial effort toward the data center,” Noelke said.
Multiple forces—from more-dense servers, to smaller and more-powerful processors, to the rising cost of energy—have conspired over the past few years to drive up power costs in corporate data centers.
Smaller servers armed with more-powerful components not only are consuming more electricity but also generating more heat, which is putting pressure on the air-conditioning units in facilities.
Technology companies are looking at myriad ways to ease those costs, from chips that consume less power, to better management software, to services designed to help businesses create more-efficient data centers.
Some, such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard, also offer liquid-cooling devices that help remove heat from server racks.
ISRs M-Series product line, which is aimed at data centers, offers a server rack that can hold both 1U (1.75-inch) and 2U (3.5-inch) rack-mounted systems.
Housed in the bottom of the rack is the M-Series Thermal Server, a 4U (7-inch) box that supplies the SprayCoolant to an I/O manifold in the back of the rack. The Thermal Server is connected to the data centers water loop.
Flexible plastic tubes run from the manifold to the individual processors, where SprayModule Kits replace heat sinks and are attached via the heat-sink-mounting features.
The fluid is then sprayed via SprayModules onto a base plate located just above the chip.
The heat from the chip causes the fluid to evaporate, and the vapor is returned to the Thermal Server, where it is recondensed in the heat exchanger.
The SprayCoolant is circulated back into the server. The system is monitored by the M-Series Systems Manager, which is linked to both the Thermal Server and the individual servers in the rack to track such data as processor temperatures. A GUI displays the data.
SprayCoolant is safe for electronics, according to ISR. In some government deployments, the fluid is sprayed directly onto the components.
ISRs Noelke said the closed system can remove enough heat to enable data center administrators to, in some cases, almost double the amount of computing power they can put into the same space.
In one 25,000-square-foot data center, a user was able to increase the compute density from 2,680 servers to 4,680 servers without significantly increasing power costs, he said.
Callison, an architectural firm with a data center design business, has been testing the SprayCool technology by using it with an HP ProLiant system for several months and also has done some case studies with the products.
The results so far have been positive, said Leonard Ruff, an associate principal with the Seattle company.
“You can decrease the power needed for mechanical systems significantly, because you can bypass a lot of the cooling” needed in the data center, Ruff said.
Because the SprayCool is a closed system, and the water needed to recondense the vapor doesnt need to be chilled, users potentially could see a 30 percent reduction in the amount of power needed to run air-conditioning units, Ruff said.
It also will enable users to grow the amount of compute capacity in their existing data centers.
Ruff said there will be some resistance among data center administrators to adopt such new technology but added that many soon will have no choice.
“Every IT manager is trying to squeeze as much processing capacity into every square inch of space as possible,” he said.
“The problem is that is comes at a cost, and that cost is heat. … We cant continue to cool [these new systems] with only [the] traditional air-cooling technology that weve been using.”
Noelke said the SprayCool products currently can be used on the PowerEdge 1850 and 1425 systems from Dell, the eServer x326 and x336 from IBM and HPs ProLiant DL360, DL145 and DL140.
ISR is hoping to sell the SprayCool products as options through OEMs and the channel.
ISR also is looking to grow its product portfolio. Later in 2006, the company will begin adding other hot-running server components to the list that can be cooled by the M-Series products, including memory components, graphics cards and power supplies, as well as developing ways to bring liquid cooling capabilities to the rack level, Noelke said.
In addition, the company will bring its G-Series products to the commercial space.
The G-Series technology is a completely enclosed cooling system for blade server systems, with cooling targeted at the entire system.
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