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With SC14 almost behind us, I would like to share a few technical details of what we are currently up to, and how this will eventually lead to a true scalable and efficient Exascale immersion cooling platform for high performance computing (HPC).

500kW in a Single 19-Inch Rack

What if I told you we took the complete 500kW Immersion-2 facility, all 20 racks and 60 tanks of it, reduced and simplified the mechanical structure further, and put all of it into a single 500kW rack? What if I'd continue, mentioning we take six of them and install them into a 40' container data center that we can ship all over the world here inexpensive hydro electricity is available in abundance? That's where we are at today and we are by no means finished.

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I am glad you asked that.

As you should know by now, passive 2-phase immersion cooling is one of the most elegant ways to cool. Now compare that process using 3M Novec Engineered Fluids with their low boiling points (ie. 34C or 49C) with a simple mineral oil bath, which is thick and greasy (oil is a high viscosity fluid) and doesn’t boil. It performs better than air, but due to its physical limitations it will never get close to evaporative cooling (aka "phase change cooling", "2-phase cooling" or "multi phase cooling") we use in our systems with Novec fluids.

One of the great advantages of passive 2-phase immersion cooling is to reduce mechanical infrastructure, while oil actually adds new points of failures to the equation (see our more formal FAQ here). Our tanks are literally silent, dust free, and don't have any moving parts. We don't have pump stations next to our tanks, and no oil means we don't need secondary containment tanks around or under the tanks due to safety regulations. Did I mention that Novec is non-flammable and used as green fire extinguisher at really important data centers (stock exchange)? Or operating theaters, where you don't want a sprinkler system to go off during surgery?

If you have immersed a motherboard with CPU into an oil bath, you probably realized that without pumping and moving the oil, it doesn’t take very long for the CPU to overheat. While oil is somewhat better at transferring heat than air, it is unfortunately also incredibly good at storing it (that’s why you find oil in oil radiators).

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I must have received a few dozen emails this week asking for more tech details of Immersion-2. Here is a quick update while Kar-Wing is en route to SC13 in Denver.

Immersion-2 is an immersion cooling platform design for 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids such as Novec 7000 and Novec 649. The system features a modular design in a 19-inch server rack form-factor, with various custom shapes and sizes available on request (think oversized bathtub).

Cooling Hundreds of Kilowatt with 1500 Watt

At this moment, our systems are nowhere near capacity and we are effectively cooling hundreds of kW with just a few thousand Watt.

The following is a snapshot of system stats while I am typing this post:

 Outdoor Temperature:   24.3°C
 Relative Humidity:  70%
 Water-In Temperature:  34.4°C
 Water-Out Temperature:  39.9°C
 Room Temperature:  28.5C
 Radiator Frequency:  12Hz
 Pump Frequency:  25Hz
 Radiator Power:  0.4kW
 Pump Power:  1.1kW

 Pump and radiator are running on German three-phase 400VAC motors, Hertz is the AC frequency.

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As you may have read in the news, the 41st semiannual TOP500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers was announced a few days ago at the 2013 International Supercomputing Conference in Germany. Weighing in at a hefty 33.86 Petaflops on the Linpack benchmark, China's Tianhe-2 Supercomputer packs quite the computing punch, and now holds the title of "World's Most Powerful Supercomputer" - at least for the time being. It's more than 3,100,000 computing cores are made up of 16,000 nodes, each containing two Intel Xeon Ivy-Bridge processors and three Xeon Phi co-processors.

 

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With all the exciting things happening lately, I almost forgot to post this.

If you are into high performance computing or cloud gaming and GPUs, have a quick look at our Immersion Cooling Concept Design for 64 Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors and 8 HPC mainboards in the space of a suitcase. After the design was shown at the 3M booth at the HPCC-USA Supercomputer Conference in Rhode Island, we've been getting a couple of questions. Especially after AMD announced its Radeon Sky Series GPU for the cloud at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) last month, and NVIDIA showed off their GRID systems at the GPU Technology Conference (GTC), people started to connect the dots.

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Global Projects

Hong Kong is one of the fastest-paced cities in the world. It has remained the world's freest economy since 1995, with low tax, no import and export restrictions, free trade and travel. Being located in the financial powerhouse and tech hub of Asia, we are well equipped to work on global projects. No matter how big, or small.

Hot & Humid

Most would consider Hong Kong's cramped living conditions, sky high property prices, and hazy skies as very challenging. When it comes to data centers, hot and humid climates are one of the biggest problems too. Hong Kong's power hungry infrastructure is a major disaster for the people's wallet and the environment. On the bright side, it's habitats like this that push companies to go the extra mile and make a change.