Believe if any person informed you that they had submerged your PC into a bathtub of boiling liquid whilst the device was once nonetheless working. You would most certainly really feel a mixture of feelings, together with anger, surprise, and bewilderment. Smartly, no person’s going to do this to you (optimistically, anyway), however Microsoft did do this very factor to itself, plunging densely packed server racks right into a metal tank full of a different liquid evolved by way of 3M.
Not like naturally happening water (learn: no longer natural H2O), this specifically engineered liquid does no longer habits electrical energy and is in reality an efficient insulator. The overall idea isn’t new, as PC customers had been dabbling with mineral oil for over a decade. However Microsoft is embarking on uncharted territory as a cloud supplier.
“We’re the first cloud supplier this is working two-phase immersion cooling in a manufacturing surroundings,” mentioned Husam Alissa, a essential engineer on Microsoft’s group for datacenter complicated construction in Redmond, Washington.
Curiously sufficient, Microsoft says it’s making use of courses discovered from cryptocurrency miners, who’ve been using a equivalent way of cooling to lend a hand mine Bitcoin and different virtual currencies.
The way it works is cooling coils snake via a tank formed like a sofa full of 3M’s liquid. From there those coils hook up with an exterior dry cooler. The warmth exuded from the submerged server racks is then transferred to the liquid, and 3M engineered the liquid to boil at simply 122F (50C), in comparison to water, which has a boiling level of 212F (100C).
Because of the low boiling level, fluid within the coils is rarely warmer than the encircling air, negating the want to douse them in water to lend a hand with evaporation. It is necessarily a closed-looped cooling device.
“The boiling impact, which is generated by way of the paintings the servers are doing, carries warmth clear of laboring laptop processors. The low-temperature boil permits the servers to function regularly at complete energy with out chance of failure because of overheating,” Microsoft says.
It additionally facilitates a little bit of CPU overclocking. No longer for consistent use, however to maintain higher workloads that happen at positive instances. As an example, in mid-afternoon, there’s a burst in computing energy from Microsoft Groups, as extra other people sign up for on the similar time. When one thing like that occurs, the servers can run sooner whilst nonetheless staying cool.
“If accomplished proper, two-phase immersion cooling will reach all our value, reliability, and function necessities concurrently with necessarily a fragment of the power spend in comparison to air cooling,” added Ioannis Manousakis, a essential device engineer with Azure.
Microsoft’s hope is that its servers dunked in 3M’s liquid enjoy low failure charges on par with the underwater datacenters it’s trying out as a part of Undertaking Natick—servers in specifically designed tubes, sitting at the seabed.