Liquid cooling — a method of cooling one’s technology infrastructure with water, rather than air — is sometimes used by computer enthusiasts and avid gamers to regulate temperature within their PC processors. It hasn’t, however, been used to keep large-scale data center servers cool. At least not yet.
According to a January 21 V3 article, UK firm Iceotope is currently testing liquid cooling systems for data centers that could help slash energy consumption, increase the number of server racks placed in each server room and cut data centers’ carbon footprints immensely.
Dr. Jon Summers of the University of Leeds said that traditional server rack cooling systems typically use about 55 watts of energy to remove 2 kilowatts of heat energy from a controlled environment such as a server rack cabinet. Liquid cooling can remove the same amount of heat energy while consuming just 1 watt of energy.
According to V3, the Iceotope liquid cooling scheme is compatible with most server rack enclosures. The systems don’t use any fans, and thus are much quieter than the fan-powered air conditioning systems largely seen today. Its developers estimate the liquid cooling system can boast a power usage effectiveness as low as 1.05; the current industry average hovers around 1.5.
Liquid cooling isn’t the only potential energy-saving cooling system being developed, however. Facebook has begun to use outside air to maintain temperatures within its server rooms. Dell is developing servers that can safely operate at much higher temperatures.
Even with these potential alternatives being pursued, IBM, HP and even Dell are all looking into the potential savings on energy use that liquid cooling could offer.