Intel Uses Mineral Oil to Cool Servers, Finds Success

While mineral oil-cooled systems have been around for quite some time now, it seems like a modern iteration of the idea has caught Intel's eye. After a year of use, the company stated that it was pleased with the results of its latest server cooling endeavor. Utilizing Green Revolution's CarnotJet mineral oil cooling system, Intel was able to cut both cooling and power costs.

According to Intel, the tested servers only needed another 2 to 3 percent of server power for cooling, down from the typical 50 or 60 percent overhead of standard servers. In comparison, the world's most efficient data centers from Google or Facebook still run with about 10 or 20 percent overhead.The major advantage of mineral oil cooling is that it is relatively cheap and can be adapted to work with a variety of systems ranging from small computers to massive servers. Since it is non-conductive, the oil doesn't short out circuits and is harmless to computer hardware. On the other hand, dunking your hardware into oil will void the warranty, and it can be difficult to clean and remove mineral oil from the hardware once it has been submerged.

The cooling alternative is definitely appealing to massive server arrays, saving precious energy and cooling costs. The only downside is that things can get a bit messy, and the oil needs to be flushed and changed every ten years or so.


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  • CaedenV
    lol, changing the oil every 10 years is a negative? One would think that would last much longer than the servers that sit in the goop.

    ... wish my car could last without an oil change for 10 years
    41
  • acadia11
    LukeCWMAre the servers continuously submerged? Or just dunked when they need to be cooled? If the former, this sounds pretty cool.However, if submerged, you lose the ability to place a fan over the hottest components. Hopefully a passive heatsink over the CPU is enough once submerged.



    Why would you want or even need to put a fan on any of the components you just submerged it in mineral oil? And the mineral oil is far more efficient thermal conductor than air any day of the week.
    25
  • Robert Pankiw
    LukeCWMAre the servers continuously submerged? Or just dunked when they need to be cooled? If the former, this sounds pretty cool.However, if submerged, you lose the ability to place a fan over the hottest components. Hopefully a passive heatsink over the CPU is enough once submerged.


    You would need to leave it submerged, because once it is removed from the oil, it heats up (quickly). Servers (and all computers) need continuous cooling, not just once every hour, or every time a process is run (processes are always running).
    24
  • Other Comments
  • CaedenV
    lol, changing the oil every 10 years is a negative? One would think that would last much longer than the servers that sit in the goop.

    ... wish my car could last without an oil change for 10 years
    41
  • LukeCWM
    Are the servers continuously submerged? Or just dunked when they need to be cooled? If the former, this sounds pretty cool.

    However, if submerged, you lose the ability to place a fan over the hottest components. Hopefully a passive heatsink over the CPU is enough once submerged.
    -24
  • spentshells
    must look into this.
    10