Microsoft is testing one new cooling technology, known as “Boiling Liquid”(Literally“ boiling liquid ”), which it promises to be more performing, more reliable and cheaper compared to traditional air systems used in data center.
The servers used for the tests are very similar to those cooled by mineral oil, only this time they are completely immersed in boiling liquid (obviously not conductive), the composition of which has not been revealed at the moment, but we know that boils at only 50 ° C. Such a low boiling point is necessary to draw heat away from critical components. Once the liquid begins to boil, it will automatically flow to the surface, allowing the cooling condensers to come into contact with the liquid returning it to its previous state. Indeed, this system can be seen as a giant vapor chamber. In fact, both rely on chemical reactions to bring heat from the system components to the cooling chambers, whether it is heat sinks or, in this case, capacitors.
Microsoft claimed to have developed this new technology due to the increasing demands for energy and heat from computer components, which will only get worse. The software giant said transistors have become so small that they have reached the atomic level and soon it will no longer be possible to further reduce production nodes. To counter this problem, it was necessary to increase the power consumption quite significantly to offer more performance, for example by adding more and more cores to a CPU. Microsoft noted that the processors increased from 150W to over 300W per chip and the same was true in the field of GPUs as well. As server components become increasingly energy-hungry, the Redmond company believes this new solution will be optimal for containing server infrastructure costs.
A few years ago Microsoft launched the Natick project, a massive operation to bring data centers underwater to inherit the benefits of using seawater as a cooling system. To do this, the server chambers were filled with dry nitrogen air instead of oxygen and used cooling fans, a heat exchanger, and plumbing that piped seawater through the cooling system. Thanks to this operation, the company was able to verify the absolute reliability of liquid cooling. Servers on the sea floor recorded an eighth the failure rate of their onshore but air-cooled counterparts.
Subsequent analysis indicated that the lack of moisture and the corrosive effects of oxygen were responsible for the increased sustainability of these servers. Microsoft hopes that the new “Boiling Liquid” technology will be able to provide very similar performance, thereby maximizing server efficiency and reliability.
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