Microsoft has been inspired by the liquid cooling that cryptocurrency miners use to develop a two-phase immersion system for their servers.
Moore’s Law no longer works, and servers are facing a major problem: the increasing heat generation of chips. The solution could be in liquid cooling, inspired by cryptocurrency miners.
For more than 40 years, Moore’s Law has been in force, according to which the power of processors doubles every two years, without increasing their electricity consumption.
This law was possible because the size of the transistors was reduced to put twice as much in the same space, without increasing the consumption of the chip. But today’s transistors have already reached atomic size, and they can no longer be reduced at the same rate as before. Because the latest processors and GPUs keep pace with growth by increasing power consumption. And with it, the generation of heat.
Most servers use air cooling, evaporating the heat generated by the chips. But this process requires a high consumption of water.
Microsoft has been experimenting with water cooling. It even has a data center submerged in the sea. But this is a different technology.
In the press release that he has launched to present this new technology, he explains that have been inspired by liquid cooling used by cryptocurrency miners to create a new two-phase immersion system, used for the first time in servers:
Immersing a fully functioning computer in liquid does not seem very safe, because the problems caused by water when combined with electricity come to mind.
But the liquid Microsoft uses has nothing to do with water. Is a fluorocarbon compound created by the 3M company that does not transmit electricity, so it does not cause hardware problems.
Another important feature is that, unlike water, which evaporates when it reaches 100 degrees Celsius, this compound does it at 50 degrees, a temperature that easily reaches any server in operation.
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By evaporating so easily, the liquid quickly cools the chips. The steam it generates passes through a condenser that turns it into liquid, falling back into the bathtub, to be used again for cooling in a closed loop which produces two benefits. First, being a liquid it cools much faster than air. And second, this closed loop makes cooling does not require water supply, reducing the ecological footprint of data centers.
At the moment it is a limited solution because servers must be submerged in special bathtubs and data centers are not ready for it. But if it is useful to apply it on servers with more process demand, for example in those of video calling or artificial intelligence companies.