Non-conductive liquid in which server hardware is sunk can make data centers more compact and efficient in the future. Microsoft is currently testing the theory with a container in its Azure cloud and has the option to expand its use in the future.
Processors, GPU accelerators and other components do not require large heat sinks in these containers. Instead, liquid cooled from 3M evaporates onto the chip at a boiling point of 50 ° C, removing the waste heat. The radiators in the lid cool the steam, which condenses and falls back into the pool like rain.
The radiators are, in turn, connected to their own external cooling system. The metal plates on the chips only increase the contact area with the liquid. Theory worked Microsoft copied from crypto miners, as the company accepts in the blog.
More compact and efficient
Hardware can be installed in a more compact way than a classic air or water-cooled system because there is no heat sink. In addition, the components remain cool due to the boiling point at 50 ° C, which, according to Microsoft, reduces power consumption by 5 to 15 percent. This saves electricity costs in the long term and protects the environment, but also enables overclocking at peak times when a particularly large amount of computing power is required in a short period of time. Elimination of systems with evaporative cooling should also reduce the need for water.
After experience with Project Netik, in which Microsoft submerged hardware containers at sea, responsible engineers believe that hardware without air contact often fails less. In the case of gas-filled marine containers, the defect peaked at about eighth position.
Microsoft wants to install redundant test systems with liquid cooling so that they can continue to operate in the event of individual defects. As a result, the containers will continue to operate for a long time without the need for maintenance and can economically seal the airtight so that no steam escapes. This means that it can also be used in remote locations, for example on a 5G transmission mast.
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