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By guest poster Phillip E. Tuma of the 3M Company

Use of passive 2-phase immersion for computing equipment is largely limited to IBM's exploration of the technology for cooling bipolar chips in the 1970s.  The liquid encapsulation module or LEM, for example, was a 10×10 array of 4.6×4.6mm chips immersed in C6F14 liquid that boiled on the bare silicon. A vulnerability of this technique is the phenomena of incipience overshoot, a large temperature excursion before the inception of boiling that can allow a chip to overheat or stress it mechanically during the sudden temperature drop that follows.  This issue was overcome by modifying the silicon surface with sandblasting followed by an aqueous KOH treatment.  It was also observed that fluid-borne contaminants could distill out of the fluid onto or under the chip.  Under-filling with beeswax kept contaminants away from the C-4 solder bump connections.

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We've been asked for a few real pictures of our immersion cooling systems. While our rack mountable projects are still confidential and we can't publish any photos, have a look at the gallery in the Building Immersion-1 page. And while we do indeed use glass for small immersion cooling demo setups, rest assured that our finished immersion cooling tanks don't look anything like fish tanks (you don't want a couple of Kilowatts in a glass tank, trust me).

Here are two more pictures of some of the prototypes we've built last year. As you can see, immersion cooling can be very simple, especially considering that each of these tanks can hold what normally would go into a couple of noisy 19" server racks.

 

 

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We've been working behind closed doors for a long time, but only recently we have been asked to come out and prepare a couple of presentations about the advantages and benefits of passive 2-phase immersion cooling, and why it is so elegant and efficient. One of them, a simple poster, will be used at the Supercomputing Conference (27th Annual HPCC Conference) in Rhode Island, USA, March 26-28th 2013.

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We've been spending all of last year around FPGA devices, but lately we spent a bit of time with Intel's Xeon Phi coprocessor. What took 9,298 CPUs and occupied 72 server racks in 1997 now fits on a tiny little chip the size of an iPod Nano.

This new chip, formerly called Knights Corner, delivers 1 teraflop of double precision floating point performance. And what's more, Intel promises we'll see accurate 28 days weather forecasts (!) within the decade, something we couldn't imagine just a week ago.

With a price tag of $2600, the Xeon Phi coprocessor is a HPC (high performance computing) product and not available for the every day gaming PC. While it was just released, it has already been installed in a couple of supercomputers around the world. Apparently Intel is also preparing to ship 100,000 units to China within 2013, where Tianhe-2, the world's fastest supercomputer aiming 100 petaflops, will be built.

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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.