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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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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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Global Trade Centre
Units 305-307, 3/F
15 Wing Kin Road 
Kwai Chung, N.T.
Hong Kong

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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.