Data centers have long dealt with the conflicting problem of ensuring servers don’t overheat when it comes to servers. Today, the solution to overheating is taking a new turn as something unthinkable has come to the forefront—liquidizing the servers.
Immersion cooling is the “coolest” solution on the scene and many companies are slowly beginning to brainstorm how that method would benefit them or make their work harder.
Immersion cooling is the process of submerging IT equipment, like your servers, CPUs, etc., into special dielectric liquids (not water) so that it conducts heat to protect the equipment. Immersion cooling can work in one of two ways:
- With the single-phase process the coolant stays in liquid form. It’s pumped to a heat exchanger and transferred to a cool water circuit from there.
- With the two-phase process, the coolant changes state when it meets a certain amount of heat. The heat causes the liquid to boil and from there it changes to gas, which rises and goes through the process of cooling.
Either process is safe to handle and non-electrical.
By all standards, most would agree that immersion cooling saves on costs and energy. However, there are other operational benefits that should be mentioned.
Go to most data centers and you’ll find it extremely loud, and rightly so. They’re equipped with large fans, condensers and compressors that run at extremely large speeds to cool the servers. In fact, the faster the speed, the louder the noise. That noise can be extremely detrimental to the ears, bordering on being an occupational hazard for anyone working there. This type of exposure to one’s ears can lead to ringing in the ears, hearing loss, and other health issues. Ear covering may mask the noise a little, but not having to deal with the noise at all, would be the ideal solution.
The benefit of immersion cooling is that they barely make noise at all. This makes for a safer environment for one’s ears and improves verbal communication throughout the data center.
Ever been in a comfortable data center? That answer is probably ‘no’ unless you visited a data center using immersion cooling. It’s usually extremely cool in data centers to keep the servers from overheating. That means, when you step in there, you can best believe it will be cool to the touch. To get comfortable means working in a full trench coat all day for some. For others, they may never be comfortable and are forced to work in extreme chilly conditions. Again, this isn’t the right way to work.
Immersion cooling directly removes heat from the servers, not from the air around them, and that means workers can be comfortable while they work.
The equipment used for immersion cooling is easy to install and use. The waist-high immersion cooling racks make it easier to handle and manage IT equipment over the vertical server racks. The equipment is easy to maintain, and effective placing is made possible by the rack-mount server rails that you can easily rest the equipment on as it’s being maintained.
The liquid coolant itself is safe to touch and improves the reliability of the servers because they help to eliminate dust and other pollutants that can be harmful to the servers, which means less maintenance and server calls. This is a benefit you can’t get from fans.
Immersion cooling is still a relatively far-fetched idea for many companies who have yet to realize the benefit. While they continue to contemplate the potential downfall of maintaining the servers through immersion cooling and potentially disastrous outcomes from leaks and spills of the liquid, tech companies like Microsoft have forged ahead with phase two immersion cooling and are fully reaping the benefits.
While an adjustment period is certainly needed for any company that decides to make the transition to this new cooling method, in the end, the many advantages of the process will likely make it all seem worthwhile.