IBMs Cool Blue Chills Data Centers

New IBM technology uses chilled water to cool off data centers, enabling administrators to fit more systems into racks.

IBM on Tuesday is introducing technology that will use chilled water to help reduce thermal problems in data centers.

The Armonk, N.Y., companys eServer Rear Door Heat eXchanger—also known as "Cool Blue"—will user water already available in the air conditioning systems in most data centers, according to Alex Yost, director of IBMs eServer xSeries.

The 4-inch-thick rear door fits onto an industry-standard 42U (6-foot) rack, enabling it to be used not only with IBM servers but also systems from other vendors, Yost said. Inside Cool Blue are sealed tubes that can be filled with chilled water, which helps cool the heated air that comes out of servers. "It stops the heat before it gets into the room," he said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifIntel, AMD and APC offer solutions to cool the data center. Click here to read more.

The product uses standard rack fittings and can be opened easily to enable engineers to service the racks. Yost estimated that the new technology will help remove up to 55 percent—or about 50,000 BTUs—of the heat generated by a fully populated rack of servers.

Power consumption and heat generation over the past couple of years have quickly moved up the list of key concerns of data center administrators, fueled in large part by the move toward more dense environments—with smaller, more powerful systems powered by increasingly faster processors.

But while enterprises now can fit more computing power into smaller spaces, it also means more heat is being generated, which has sent cooling costs skyrocketing. A few years ago, data centers were planned for 30 to 65 watts per square foot; now that number is more like 100 watts, Yost said.

The result has been data centers running racks that arent filled to capacity, meaning more racks are needed, Yost said.

"If you dont fill up your rack, youre bringing in more racks, and that means youre filling up more space," he said.

Being able to substantially cool racks of servers will mean more racks being filled with systems, which in turn will save enterprises money in data center space and hardware costs, Yost said.

He said IBM estimates are that Cool Blue can save an average of $9,200 per rack per year. It is generally available now starting at $4,200.

IBMs eServer Cluster 1350 system—a high-performance computing Linux cluster that can run on processors from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Intel Corp., as well as IBMs own Power chips—will be the first platforms to include delivered support for Cool Blue.

Most OEMs are addressing thermal issues in a variety of ways, from system design to services to help businesses set up their data centers to maximize airflow. In addition to Cool Blue, IBM also created Calibrated Vector Cooling, a technology that directs cool air through its systems.

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