The development of “standards” is a common evolutionary
story in every industry. Data centers
are not unique in that respect. If you
stand in the center of Waxpool Road and Loudoun County Parkway in Ashburn (which
I would not recommend) you can look in multiple directions and see data centers
that were designed and built to address similar customer needs. Aesthetically, each structure is slightly
different, but the building blocks inside have been standardized (200 Watts/SF,
19” racks, air cooling, etc.)
Very soon, some of these decades-old industry standards will
be put to the test as new technologies are ready for prime-time. One of those new entrants is immersion cooling. We’ve been talking about liquid cooling for
quite a while. Immersion cooling is one
version that taps the efficiency benefits of liquid heat removal by submerging
IT hardware in a dielectric fluid (oil).
Immersion cooling systems can extract far more heat in 42U
of hardware than traditional air cooling.
The difference is so great, in fact, that it’s possible to build an
immersion cooling facility on just 10% of the footprint of a traditional air-cooled
data center. Same capacity….10% of the
building space. Needless to say, a few industry
standards are about to be kicked to the curb.
At the same time, we receive daily downloads about AI, VR,
AR, 5G, HPC, autonomous vehicles, drones, streaming games, and many other
technologies that are expected to flourish once hardware and software are able
to fully utilize GPUs, ASICs and FPGA chips.
In a year or two, it may be hard to recognize servers and storage
devices. Instead of motherboards hiding
in sleek metal cases with tiny fans blowing air across heat sinks, we could see
the emergence of hardware consisting of exposed chips and circuit boards
mounted to a framework and immersed in a cooling fluid.
If this convergence of new applications and enabling
solutions occurs, everything we know about data centers could change. A 50 MW facility might consume an acre of
space, and not 10 acres. Vertical area
will be more effectively consumed as immersion cooling pods are stacked on
shelves much like an Amazon fulfillment center.
Robotic arms will upgrade hardware without the need for human
interaction. PUE’s of 1.03 will be
At this point, David A. Patterson’s quote from his 2008
Technical paper “The data center is now the computer” will finally be a reality.
To learn more about immersion cooling check out Submer or call us today.