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Intel Gets Serious About Liquid Immersion Cooling for Upcoming Datacenters

Submer
(Image credit: Submer)

One of the main challenges for today's datacenters is efficient yet relatively cheap cooling. Air cooling and liquid cooling have their advantages and disadvantages, but as heat dissipated by CPUs and accelerators is getting to 270W – 500W (respectively), air cooling and liquid cooling tend to lose their appeal in terms of efficiency and costs. Some server makers have experimented with immersion liquid cooling for years, but now it looks like Intel itself is getting serious about immersion liquid cooling. 

This week Intel announced a collaboration agreement with Green Revolution Cooling (GRC), a developer of immersion liquid cooling solutions, to design and implement custom cutting-edge immersion cooling techniques in future datacenters and edge deployments. This is the second collaboration pact with an immersion liquid cooling specialist after Intel inked a deal with Submer in late August. 

Intel's Xeon CPUs for heavy-duty servers increased their thermal design power (TDP) from 165W per socket five years ago to 270W per socket today and they keep getting more power hungry and consequently hotter. Meanwhile AI and compute accelerators are looking at an up to 700W TDP with OAM form-factor modules. With such heat dissipation amid increasing server density, it is not particularly surprising that Intel is looking at immersion liquid cooling. GRC's existing off-the-shelf liquid immersion solutions can provide cooling performance of up to 200kW per rack, more than enough to cool down up to 42 1U machines packing high-performance CPUs and ultra-high-performance accelerators. 

As an added bonus, liquid immersion cooling can help reduce datacenters' impact on environment as generated heat can potentially be reused, converted into electricity, or monetized in some other way.

"Through this collaboration, we are able to provide customers with custom solutions to meet their computing and cooling needs to help ensure that data centers operate in a more environmentally sensitive way," said Mohan Kumar, Senior Fellow at Intel. "Our collaboration with GRC aligns with Intel’s goal of supporting cutting edge technologies that provide increased efficiency and density for data center and edge deployments." 

With GRC, Intel will work with joint customers in a bid to offer custom and fully validated immersion liquid cooling solutions for racks powered by Intel Xeon Scalable processors.

Also, the companies will work together to ensure that new fluids entering this market are safe, efficient, and compatible with developing infrastructure. Finally, Intel and GRC plan to to educate the market on the benefits of liquid immersion cooling technology. 

The pact with GRC enables Intel to offer custom liquid immersion cooling solutions to select customers that need it the most. The company also plans to develop open industry-standard immersion liquid cooling solutions for datacenters with Submer. In addition to designing open-standard immersion liquid cooling technologies, Intel also wants to ensure that there is a supply chain that can build appropriate hardware in high volumes to support next-generation datacenters with Intel's upcoming Xeon processors and Xe-HPC compute accelerators.