Friday, June 6, 2008

Water-Cooling Means More Chips With Less Heat

Water-Cooling Means More Chips With Less Heat

IBM showed off a new computing system yesterday that packed layers of semiconductors in a vertical stack and cooled it with water running in hair-thin pipes along the chips themselves. This is more impressive than the water-cooled copper plates that subsequently cool chips, and a leap ahead of the traditional method of just using straight AC to cool data centers.

By running the water directly alongside the chips the system can pack even more chips into a smaller space without creating a ton of heat. Less heat means you need less AC to cool the system and thus less energy. This technology should show up in data centers within the next five-to-10 years.

Fans of reuse and conservation may wonder what to do with all that water. Well IBM thinks it could go to heat office buildings or provide hot water, as illustrated in the video below. Right now, some innovative companies are using heated air from a data center to take care of heating and electrical needs. Qualcomm uses heat expelled from servers to help run a cogeneration plant at its W campus in San Diego.

The Cork Internet Exchange in Ireland has also gained some fame for doing that with its data center. CIX has closed off aisles containing the fronts of servers, which require cooler temperatures and let the hot air from the back warm the room. The rooms also have heat exchangers that suck that warm air out of the room and use it to power the heating of other areas of the building, as well as of warm water. Check out this nifty video:

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