Intel Advances Liquid Cooling Solutions for Datacenters, Saving Water and Energy

February 19, 2024

Today’s surge in AI deployments places heavier demands on compute performance. To keep up, modern processors consume more energy to handle heavy workloads and generate more heat as a byproduct. Cooling features can require up to 40% of a data center’s energy consumption,1 and according to researchers at the University of Washington, training a chatbot can use as much electricity as a neighborhood consumes in a year.2 In 2023, ChatGPT fielded billions of queries, devouring the daily energy used by about 30,000 households.2 One solution to the ever-growing need for performance and more effective heat dissipation is a set of technologies, generally called liquid cooling. In collaboration with industry partners, Intel leads innovation, standards, and validation of liquid cooling solutions for wide-scale adoption.

Liquid cooling approaches come in two general forms. The first is cold plate, or direct-to-chip (DTC). DTC implementation functions like a car’s radiator. Liquid flows into a heat sink atop a processor, absorbs residual heat, and then the hot liquid moves to a passive cooling area before it repeats the process. The second rapidly growing approach for liquid cooling is immersion. Rather than placing a mini plumbing system over a processor, a circuit board – or entire server – remains submerged in an engineered fluid explicitly designed to gather and dissipate heat more efficiently than water. Some companies seek to combine the approaches with a hybrid cooling system.

While Intel researches and tests engineered coolant types, companies like Submer, Green Revolution Cooling, Cool IT Systems, Vertiv, Exxon, and Shell apply their expertise to tackle the heat transfer challenge.

In 2022, Intel shared its open IP solution for immersed liquid cooling that helped datacenter engineers avoid the need to customize solutions. Intel continues to work closely with the Open Compute Project (OCP), which brings together industry leaders across the hardware ecosystem to foster innovation and standardization.

Customers regularly request Intel’s guidance regarding optimal cooling approaches, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Beyond the silicon layer, various server components may not be compatible with some coolant types or techniques. Therefore, immersion cooling approaches must take a holistic perspective. Intel’s Advanced ​Data Center ​Development ​Labs (ADDL) tests the compatibility and reliability of liquid cooling solutions using system-level equipment, liquid cooling tanks, and industry fluids. To offer customers greater peace of mind, Intel offers an immersion warranty for select Intel Xeon Scalable processors in liquid cooling solutions.

Also, OEMs like Dell and Supermicro take this challenge seriously and offer thoroughly tested liquid-cooled systems featuring Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors. Customers purchasing servers with the Intel® Gaudi3® AI accelerators can choose Vertiv’s two-phase liquid cooling technologies, optimized to reduce energy consumption for greener computing on the platform.

Together, industry leaders advancing liquid cooling systems have an opportunity to make a substantial contribution toward more environmentally-friendly datacenters. We’ve witnessed significant progress and will see even more innovations in the coming years.

Learn more about Intel’s research and collaborations in liquid cooling


[1] https://grcmain.wpenginepowered.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/grc-intel-the-sustainable-data-center-transformation-white-paper.pdf
2 https://www.washington.edu/news/2023/07/27/how-much-energy-does-chatgpt-use/
3 Source IDC, July 2023, ID#US51013223 -Generative AI: Implications for the Data Center
4 Source:  https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/10/climate/ai-could-soon-need-as-much-electricity-as-an-entire-country.html
5 Source IEA: 2X-First half 2022 vs 2016-2021 avg
6 Source: https://www.upsite.com/blog/why-has-pue-remained-flat-for-so-long-after-years-of-progress/#:~:text=The%20latest%20survey%20from%20Uptime,high%20as%202.5%20in%202007
7 Source: Green Revolution Cooling: Water reduction dependent on system and heat reuse
8 Source: Submer

Intel is committed to the continued development of more sustainable products, processes, and supply chain as we strive to prioritize greenhouse gas reduction and improve our global environmental impact.  Where applicable, environmental attributes of a product family or specific SKU will be stated with specificity.  Refer to the 2022 Corporate Responsibility Report (p. 64) for further information.​

Performance varies by use, configuration and other factors. Learn more at https://edc.intel.com/content/www/us/en/products/performance/benchmarks/.​

Performance results are based on testing as of dates shown in configurations and may not reflect all publicly available updates. See backup for configuration details. No product or component can be absolutely secure.​

Your costs and results may vary.​

Intel technologies may require enabled hardware, software or service activation.​

Intel does not control or audit third-party data. You should consult other sources to evaluate accuracy.​

© Intel Corporation. Intel, the Intel logo, and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.​

Intel disclaims all express and implied warranties, including without limitation, the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement, as well as any warranty arising from course of performance, course of dealing, or usage in trade.​

Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.​

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