Immersion Cooling: The Future for Data Centers

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The continuing boom in digital technologies – and in particular for mobile video streaming and online gaming – now has mobile devices making up nearly 60 percent of the entirety of data traffic. Come 2020 that’s expected to rise to 80 percent and it’s an indication of how totally wired we’ll all look to be in the not so distant future.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re in a spot like any other Canadian web hosting provider where we see the incredible benefits this type of mobile connectivity is going to provide for us, but we’re also obviously aware of the operation challenges that these data demands are going to put on data centers across Canada.

Every online activity involves massive amounts of data that’s stored in different data centers, and while there’s many different sizes of them it is the large data centers that may overheat on account of the billions of gigabytes of data being created and used all around the world. Data centers and their IT equipment – servers, networking and storage equipment – consume mammoth amounts of energy to run AND work to cool the heat which emanates from the IT equipment going at or near capacity much of the time.

In fact, cooling is far and away the biggest consumer of electrical power in nearly all data center, and sometimes they may take up to 40 or 50 percent of all the power being used in certain ones.

Here’s something else to consider; this round-the-clock global data center energy consumption eats up roughly 3% of all globally generated power, and makes up 4% of greenhouse gas emissions. That puts the ICT industry at par with the airline industry in as far as those emissions, but it’s the data centers that are said to have the fastest growing carbon footprint among the entire ICT sector – to the tune of almost 1/4 of global carbon dioxide emissions from ICT.

There have been energy efficiency improvements, but it’s predicted that data center energy use will grow by 4% between 2014 and 2020.

Technological Advances in Cooling

The biggest change from recent years is that demand for data centers among cloud service providers, enterprises, government agencies, colocation providers and telecommunication organizations has increased in a big way along with the increased implementation of advanced technologies such as cloud-based services for their operational business needs.

Factor in as well the rapid growth of new technological trends like big data analytics, A.I. and machine learning, cryptocurrencies and the IoT. Bitcoin mining also burns huge amount of electricity.

All these new services and enhanced products is also pumping up demand for powerful computing hardware. This creates space needs and design implications for high-density racks that can be both powered and cooled.

P.U.E. stands for Power Usage Effectiveness, and all of these developments make it difficult to have reasonable PUE and be a ‘Green’ data center. The ideal PUE is 1.0, and that indicates maximum attainable efficiency along with no overhead energy.

Which leads us to cooling.

Air cooling struggles to effectively lower the operating temperatures of data center hardware these days, but liquid immersion cooling is much more effective. Liquid immersion cooled data centers are more compact, modular, green and highly efficient, saving up to 99% of electricity compared to traditional data center cooling themselves with chillers, heat pumps and HVAC.

Server immersion cooling makes it possible to significantly reduce their data center energy load, and that’s independent of how their PUE is doing. Hardware or servers are kept submerged in what is typically an oil-based liquid that is dielectric and thermally conductive.

This in turn allows data centers to employ evaporative or adiabatic cooling towers instead of chiller-based air cooling.

Submer Technologies is one new player on the scene that has a quality oil-based data center product, using a coolant fluid which is 100% biodegradable dielectric fluid and ensures an impressive 1.03 PUE plus a 45% savings on traditional electricity bill and hyper scaler efficiency. It’s great for web hosts, cloud providers, edge computing, cryptocurrency mining, blockchain and research data centers.

Big Data needs to stay cool too, and it would seem air is soon to be relieved of its duties there in most data centers around the world.

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