Microsoft is literally dipping its servers as a cooling method. The corporation shared a detailed report on the “two-stage immersion cooling” process. The same was applied in a data center on the banks of the Columbia River, and the peculiar fact is that the liquid used is “boiling” due to the heat generated by the servers.
“Emails and other communications sent between Microsoft employees literally make the liquid boil inside a steel storage tank packed with computer servers,” says the report signed by John Roach. He quickly makes it clear, however, that no water is used in this procedureIt is a non-conductive and “harmless to electronic equipment” fluid that is based on fluorocarbon.
According to Microsoft, the liquid in question was designed to boil at 50 ° C. This means that it requires half the temperature necessary for the water to reach the boiling point. And how does this benefit cooling? When the heat generated by the components is transferred to the fluid, it evaporates and drives the heat away. Obviously, this process is facilitated because boiling is reached at a lower temperature than usual.
Low-temperature boiling allows Microsoft servers to operate continuously “at full power, without risk of failure due to overheating”. Now, how is this constant operation achieved if the liquid evaporates? This is where a closed-loop system comes into play.
Microsoft servers operate in a closed loop system
With Microsoft’s server racks submerged, inside the tank a closed circuit cooling system is generated. This is possible because the vapor generated by the boiling fluid reaches a cooled condenser, located in the lid of the storage device. In this way, the vapor turns into liquid and falls back on the components in the process of cooling.
Microsoft assures that the cryptocurrency industry was a pioneer in the use of this type of liquid-based cooling systems. Internal studies further indicate that two-phase immersion cooling is capable of reducing the energy consumption of any server by up to 15%. And this has been viable, even for teams dedicated to high-performance tasks related to artificial intelligence.
Microsoft’s goal is for data centers to be sustainable. But for this he considers that it will not depend only on submerging his equipment, but on managing resources – energy, cooling or maintenance – relying on machine learning. The company is also investigating other options, such as the potential of hydrogen fuel cells to replace diesel generators that provide backup power to data centers.