In the world of HPC, continuous improvements in performance are key to keeping up with today’s demanding workloads. But it’s hard to realize the true potential of your IT infrastructure when your datacenter is running out of cooling capacity. Space and power density problems limit your ability to pack more compute into smaller spaces and make better use of your existing data center real estate.
Solutions based on air cooling reflect those limitations. The conventional approach to data center cooling relies on fans and bulky, expensive air conditioning and air handling systems. This approach causes power density problems – particularly for academic and research-based organizations with smaller data centers. Traditional air solutions are often not capable of providing adequate cooling to the servers.
Adding more compute power to handle increasingly larger and more complex workloads means adding more cooling – but the rack space just isn’t available. Complicating matters is the fact that traditional data centers rely on chiller-based air systems that can consume 50% of all data center power.
A Different Approach
CoolIT Systems provides a simple and cost effective alternative to data center cooling.
Direct Contact Liquid Cooling (DCLC) uses the exceptional thermal conductivity of liquid to provide dense, concentrated cooling to specific surface areas. Liquid is several orders of magnitude more efficient than air at storing and transferring heat, allowing the data center’s reliance on expensive air conditioning and fans to be significantly reduced. DCLC enables more than 45kW densities per rack using warm water cooling. This not only reduces power use, but also helps boost the processing power of the data center’s compute platforms.
“There are a variety of liquid cooling solutions in the marketplace today, but many of them, including immersion systems, require major modifications to the IT infrastructure,” says Geoff Lyon, CoolIT CEO and CTO. “The Direct Contact approach is better for retrofitting with existing infrastructure and greenfield opportunities.
“What we offer is quite simple,” he continues. “Our DCLC system uses relatively small tubes that bring cool water into the server, gather the heat from high density sources, and remove it from the data center. We don’t need fans to grab the heat and air conditioning to suck the heat out of that airflow. Instead we transport the thermal energy outside the data center where it is often used opportunistically – everything from melting ice under sidewalks to space heating rooms.”
CoolIT’s Rack DCLC is based on three modules – a server module, manifold module and a heat exchanger. The server module can cool any combination of CPU, GPU and memory components with customization available for VR, ASIC and other devices. The manifold module exchanges liquid between the heat exchange module and the server modules. The server module includes specially designed dry break quick disconnects allowing all servers to be hot swappable. And finally, the heat exchanger modules come in either liquid-to-liquid or liquid-to-air configurations.
DCLC in Action
A typical Rack DCLC deployment was announced in May 2015 at the Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center (PSNC) in Warsaw, Poland. The PSNC solution combines blade servers with the DCLC processor and memory cooling modules to remove 80% of the server heat via the liquid loop.
In June of this year, at the Center for Biological Sequence Analysis (CBS) at the Technical University of Denmark, a Rack DCLC system replaced its traditional air cooling for the university’s Top500 HPC system known as Computerome. Not only is the DCLC solution cooling the data center, but also waste heat in the form of high temperature liquid is being used to heat adjacent buildings and the nearby town of Roskilde.
DCLC reduces the reliance on expensive, space consuming air cooling systems and delivers a rapid ROI. The CoolIT solution requires less data center equipment – such as racks and switches – lowering overall CAPEX. Customers typically experience a 25%-30% decrease in OPEX.
Rack DCLC is high compatible with today’s IT ecosystems making the solution easy to install, maintain and service. The CBS installation, mentioned above, was completed in a few days.
DCLC also facilitates peak performance for higher power or overclocked processors, while providing a significant reduction in total data center energy consumed. The system achieves densities of 45kW or greater per rack.
In short, DCLC all but eliminates the need for air cooling, frees up space in the data center, and accelerates HPC processing power.
CoolIT Systems CEO Lyon notes that air conditioning is not going to go away, but will play less of a role in the data center as liquid cooling becomes dominant. Today’s and tomorrow’s data centers will adopt innovative hybrid solutions, combining DCLC with other technologies such as rear door heat exchangers (RDHx), which also use liquid cooling.
Much of that innovation will be provided by CoolIT, drawing on its more than 14 years experience inventing and designing liquid cooling technology. The company has more than two million liquid cooling units deployed in data centers, servers, and desktop computers around the world.