Apparently, Microsoft engineers have a thing for liquids. For example in 2015, they closed the Scottish Orkney Islands A small data center in the Atlantic. And not because they wanted to get rid of it, but because they hoped that they would be able to use cold sea water to cool the computer. Five years later, you lifted the computer container, now densely populated by the muscles, back to the surface and the experiment was known as Project Natick.
But the cooling in this project was still done by nitrogen gas, which was then released by the heat of the microprocessors into the sea via heat exchangers, a new Microsoft– Protect the entire server rack immersed in a cold liquid.
In pictures, Which the company published on Tuesday, This seems confusing at first glance: the liquid flowing around the circuit boards starts boiling. And indeed it does, but not at 100 ° C, because it is not the water that engineered computers immerse. This would also be retaliatory, as water is known to conduct electricity and will cause a short circuit immediately.
A closed cycle
So the choice fell on a liquid unspecified by Microsoft, but according to non-conductive, “The ledge«Based on fluorocarbons, which have a boiling point that is much lower than that of water, that is, 50 ° C. To be able to take advantage of their properties, the servers are submerged in delimitably sealed tanks, in which boiling coolant can evaporate and condense on condenser plates, and then the tank as droplets Come back to me.
Microsoft manager John Roach explains that the unusual cooling method is necessary because computer chips require more and more electrical energy and thus generate more and more waste heat. Because chips have ever more and sometimes smaller assemblies, the power consumption of a computer processor has increased from about 150 watts to over 300 watts. Graphics processors, often used in data centers, will even convert to more than 700 watts per chip.
Christian Bellidi, vice president of Microsoft’s development group for data centers in Redmond, said previously common air cooling would not be sufficient. “This is what leads us to cooling immersion, in which we can boil heat directly from the surface of the chip.” pay attention.
Microsoft primarily uses mini-data centers built for testing in tanks to buffer short-term peak loads, for example when multiple employees dial in at 1 pm and 2 pm at team conferences at the same time. We do. Ultimately, technology should help energy centers operate cheaply to save energy. Furthermore, it is expected to be able to reduce the failure rate and thus is a maintenance effort for the server through liquid cooling.
As a potential application for the new technology, the group names data centers that, like oil tanks, can be buried under 5G radio mast in the middle of city centers. However, it will be some time before this happens. For the next few months, engineers are initially set to try a series of tests to see if their idea is suitable for series production.