Krystal Temple

Submersing Data Centers in Hot Oil? What a Cool Idea!

Servers Submerged in Oil

More than ever before, data is expanding. You might have seen my blog post in March when I wrote about what happens in an Internet minute – more than 24 million emails are sent, 20 million photos are viewed and 61,000 hours of music are played. That’s a lot of data! This surge in information translates to a growing need for data centers, which elevates the parallel need to remain energy efficient.

Let’s go back to the basics. Have you ever used a computer and noticed it getting warm as you worked? It’s a similar concept with data centers, which are comprised of hundreds of servers. As the servers process more and more data, they use energy, so it’s natural that their temperatures will rise. To ensure that data centers don’t overheat, we need to keep them cool. But, pumping out air conditioning uses even more energy.

As data centers continue to multiply, companies are looking for innovative ways to absorb their growth in an environmentally friendly way. One Intel campus explored a seemingly unconventional solution to cool its data center and increase its energy efficiency.

On Intel’s Rio Rancho, New Mexico campus, the answer to successful data center cooling lies within one ingredient: mineral oil. For an entire year, Intel placed its servers on end, completely submerged in vats of mineral oil. The oil circulated through the servers, removing any excess heat and in turn, cooling the entire data center. Check out this video to see the mineral oil cooling process in action.

To make this happen, Intel collaborated with Green Revolution Cooling (GRC). By using GRC’s fluid-submersion technology, Intel reduced its cooling energy use by 90 to 95 percent and reduced server power by approximately 30 percent. With the oil submersion phase of the pilot program recently concluded, Intel is now analyzing the data to determine opportunities for potential future use.

As data centers continue to expand, do you think more companies will turn to mineral oil as a cooling agent? Let me know in the comments section below!

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