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Intel, SGI and 3M Explore Liquid Cooling in the Data Center

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

3M, SGI, and Intel unveiled a process created by 3M to cool down data centers by immersing heat generating hardware, for example, SGI's ICE X supercomputer powered by Intel's second generation Xeon E5-2600 processors, into a nonconductive fluid. Earlier this week the three companies shared the announcement of the advanced cooling technology for the "data center of the future."

IT organizations that manage data centers understand the need to lower operating costs and 3M developed a way that it says can lower energy cooling costs by as much as 95 percent using the company's Novec Engineered Fluid. The Novec fluid is a dielectric (meaning either very low or non-conductive) liquid used to cool down electrical transformers and provide commercial refrigeration since the early 2000's.

[Read: 5 Key Data Center Cooling Trends]

In 2013, 3M Novec Engineered Fluid was used as the primary coolant to create an alternative 500Kw data center in Hong Kong that reportedly saved an estimated $64,000 per month by eliminating chillers and air conditioning units. The new data center additionally reduced the IT equipment footprint by 90 percent.

In this recent proof of concept, 3M is working with SGI to demonstrate that SGI's fifth generation Intel Xeon E5-2600 powered ICE X distributed memory supercomputer can function and benefit from an immersion bath into the Novec fluid. A major limitation on how much hardware can be packed into any given space is due to the buildup of heat and the need for adequate space for airflow between components to allow for heat dissipation. By immersing hardware directly into the Novec Engineered Fluid the companies are attempting to show that tighter component packaging can be achieved which would allow for more computing power in less space. By freeing up space, data centers could expand without having to take on the cost of additional square footage and the infrastructure costs that go with it. The Data Center of the Future would reduce the need for water for cooling, air conditioning and chiller units, and could allow for new and more powerful hardware designs that would not be limited by issues related to heat.

"Through this collaboration with Intel and 3M, we are able to demonstrate a proof-of-concept showcasing an extremely innovative capability to reduce energy use in data centers, while optimizing performance. Built entirely on industry-standard hardware and software components, the SGI ICE X solution enables significant decreases in energy requirements for customers, lowering total cost of ownership and impact on the environment. We are delighted to work with Intel and 3M on this demonstration to illustrate the potential to further reduce energy in data centers, something imperative as we move to a more data intensive world," said Jorge Titinger, president and CEO of SGI.