Allied Control Showing Off Immersion Cooling at SC17

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 20, 2017 - 10:09 PM |
Tagged: Supercomputing Conference, supercomputing, liquid cooling, immersion cooling, HPC, allied control, 3M

PC Gamer Hardware (formerly Maximum PC) spotted a cool immersion cooling system being shown off at the SuperComputing conference in Denver, Colorado earlier this month. Allied Control who was recently acquired by BitFury (popular for its Bitcoin mining ASICs) was at the show with a two phase immersion cooling system that takes advantage of 3M's Novec fluid and a water cooled condesor coil to submerge and cool high end and densely packed hardware with no moving parts and no pesky oil residue.

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Nick Knupffer (@Nick_Knupffer) posted a video (embedded below) of the cooling system in action cooling a high end processor and five graphics cards. The components are submerged in a non-flamable, non-conductive fluid that has a very low boiling point of 41°C. Interestingly, the heatsinks and fans are removed allowing for direct contact between the fluid and the chips (in this case there is a copper baseplate on the CPU but bare ASICs can also be cooled). When the hardware is in use, heat is transfered to the liquid which begins to boil off from a liquid to a vapor / gaseous state. The vapor rises to the surface and hits a condensor coil (which can be water cooled) that cools the gas until it turns back into a liquid and falls back into the tank. The company has previously shown off an overclocked 20 GPU (250W) plus dual Xeon system that was able to run flat out (The GPUs at 120% TDP) running deep learning as well as mining Z-Cash when not working on HPC projects while keeping all the hardware well under thermal limits and not throttling. Cnet also spotted a 10 GPU system being shown off at Computex (warning autoplay video ad!).

According to 3M, two phase immersion cooling is extremely efficient (many times more than air or even water) and can enable up to 95% lower energy cooling costs versus conventional air cooling. Further, hardware can be packed much more tightly with up to 100kW/square meter versus 10kW/sq. m with air meaning immersion cooled hardware can take up to 10% less floor space and the heat produced can be reclaimed for datacenter building heating or other processes.



Neat stuff for sure even if it is still out of the range of home gaming PCs and mining rigs for now! Speaking of mining BitFury plans to cool a massive 40+ MW ASIC mining farm in the Republic of Georgia using an Allied Control designed immersion cooling system (see links below)!

Also read:

Source: PC Gamer

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November 20, 2017 | 11:29 PM - Posted by FluidEverythingInBigFishTank (not verified)

I just love those Twitter videos and the media could not be played issues in my browser! So even though YouTube may have crappy ads at least the video content is HTML5 mostly!

I have no Idea what Twitter is using but their videos never work in my browser and I'll never have Flash Installed with all those security holes! I do not think that Twitter uses Flash but their videos do not work in my browser.

This technology is old news anyways.

November 21, 2017 | 06:10 AM - Posted by Anonymouse (not verified)

This system is nice for efficient cooling, but I think this kind of immersion cooling is more interesting for 24/7 sub-ambient cooling: with no air (and thus water vapor) near the hardware, it can be kept well below ambient without any condensation issues no matter how long it runs. I wonder how cold this Novec can get before it becomes too viscous to flow around the hardware

November 22, 2017 | 05:34 PM - Posted by James

I don’t know if sub-ambient cooling would be efficient with this liquid. A large part of the performance comes from the phase change (boiling point) which occurs at 41 degrees celsius (about 105 degrees fahrenheit). Below the boiling point, the thermal transfer could be reduced significantly. Molecules boiling off will carry the heat away much quicker and more effectively than just conduction/convection at below boiling temperature. The phase change absorbs much more energy than just increasing the temperature of the liquid slightly. Depending on characteristics of the liquid, even if you cooled it below ambient, the devices may still go right up to 105 degrees because the thermal transfer isn’t efficient enough below that temperature. It should stay at that temperature as long as there is enough liquid available though. This is like placing a paper cup of water in a fire. The cup will not burn until the water boils away (at least the parts below the water leve will not burnl).

November 21, 2017 | 07:51 AM - Posted by Martin (not verified)

From quick Googling, the fluid is roughly 100€/£/$ per liter and required to be hermetically sealed? Very-very niche.

November 21, 2017 | 12:21 PM - Posted by Xukanik

I wonder if this can be used in some kind of passive loop.
Kind of like water cooling but no need for a pump.

Link to 3M site about this.

November 21, 2017 | 02:31 PM - Posted by Mr.Gold (not verified)

Is this similar in concept to a vapor chamber ?

"The vaporized coolant convects freely through the chamber. The Molecules then condense on cold surfaces, dissipate their heat load, and are channeled back to the coolant reservoir. "

Also, liquid cooling block could be designed to have a similar footprint. The great thing in this method is that "all" the energy is captured, not wasted.

A bit like using an overclocked FX-8350 with 290x in cross fire as a space heater.

November 22, 2017 | 08:09 AM - Posted by psuedonymous

Full-submergence, vapour chambers, and heatpipes, all use phase-change cooling. Full-submerged systems require expensive fluids to allow low-temperature phase changes at atmospheric pressure, while vapour chambers and heatpipes use low-pressure water for a far cheaper and more efficient (water has an order of magnitude higher specific heat capacity than Novec) cooling.

November 22, 2017 | 08:04 PM - Posted by James

The specific heat capacity isn’t necessarily an important metric here. For a standard water cooling loop, the heat capacity comes into play since the temperature of the water only changes by a small amount. This allows multiple blocks to be hooked up in series. Even if you run it through the cpu first, the temperature change will be small, so it isn’t an issue to run it through the GPU second, in series. This is phase change, so the metric that might be of interest would be the heat of vaporization. A phase change absorbs much more energy than just raising the temperature of the liquid by a small amount. This liquid happens to boil at about 105 degrees Fahrenheit or 41 degrees Celsius; the gas phase immediately floats up to the heat exchanger. Water could absorb a lot of the heat with the high heat capacity, but it may not transfer it as quickly without a phase change.

November 23, 2017 | 08:11 AM - Posted by psuedonymous

Novec 649 has a heat of vaporisation of 88 kJ/kg, while water is 2258 kJ/kg. Water is about 25x as effective a phase-change coolant than Novec.

November 24, 2017 | 01:24 AM - Posted by RealExascale (not verified)

Good video on the tech from 4 years ago.

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