Technology giant Microsoft has reportedly started using the immersion technique which involves submerging the servers in liquid to enhance their performance and energy efficiency. This technique has been present in the industry for a few years. However, the company claims to be the first cloud provider to conduct two-phase immersion cooling within a production environment.
For the records, the cooling method works by fully submerging the server racks in a specially developed non-conductive fluid based on fluorocarbon. This liquid eliminates the heat as it hits the components directly and the liquid reaches a lower boiling point of 50 degrees Celsius. This allows it to condense and fall back into the bath in the form of a raining liquid. This forms a closed loop cooling system, minimizing the costs as no energy is required in moving the liquid around the tank. Also, no chiller is required for the condenser.
Explaining the technique, Christian Belady, vice president of Microsoft’s data center advanced development group stated that it is essentially a bathtub in which the rack will lie down. After that there will be a boiling similar to a boiling pot but at 50 degrees Celsius instead of 100 degrees Celsius as in the normal case.
This type of cooling has reportedly been used by cryptominers in last few years for mining bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Inspired by this technique, Microsoft decided to conduct trial on its application, to test against spikes of cloud demand and high workloads for applications such as machine learning.
At present, most of the data centers are reportedly air cooled, using outside air and evaporation to cool down by lowering the temperatures to below 35 degrees Celsius. This method is called swamp cooling. However, it requires large amount of water in the process. The new liquid bath technique, on the other hand, is designed to reduce water usage.
This tub of servers is also anticipated to enable Microsoft to pack the hardware more tightly, which is expected to reduce the amount of required space in the long term.