In the early days of mainframe server servers, the blistering temperatures of smoldering chips could only be quenched by water cooling. Eventually, AC (Air Conditioning) systems became the chiller of choice. But a rack mount density increases, server real estate decreases. If you've ever seen an IBM Blade server, you'll know what I mean. There's probably more free space in the shuttle system I'm using right now.
But IBM is teaming up with Panduit, a networking component manufacturer, to help re-introduce H2O cooling as a viable means for keeping servers refrigerated.
"As switch power supplies increase and the kilowatts per cabinet continue to grow, so does the strain on the infrastructure," said Panduit technology veep Jack Tison, who's company hopes to start re-introducing water cooled server options by next year.
Code named 'CoolBlue', the project entails a heat exchanger bulit in to the back of a server cabinet. This heat exchanger carries water, and since water can hold some 3500 time the heat that air can, the performance gains and cost savings are more than apparent. Without instaling any extra fans, cooling power usage could be reduced by some 70% or so. In fact, the CoolBluebuiltinstalling technique is already in practise. The pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim use CoolBlue to help chill their super computer. The thing probably folds protein strands and models bio-chemical images.
And though the introduction of IBM into the water cooled server market is more than notable, it's really nothing new. A number of companies produce water cooling kits for server environments. APC and Liebert are two of them, and they do use water cooling in some of their products.