Forget your water-cooled gaming rig: Intel is experimenting with a cooling system which fully immerses the entirety of a computer’s electronics in liquid to increase efficiency.
IT World reports that Intel has been working with SGI and 3M to develop systems that allow them to immerse entire supercomputers in liquid to reduce energy bills. Their first experiments use a fluid developed by 3M called Novec: a dielectric liquid, which means it doesn’t conduct electricity, allowing electronics to continue to operate as usual when submerged.
It’s a simple idea, which is based on the simple physics which means a liquid conducts heat away from objects faster than air. Intel claims that its experiments suggest that fully immersing supercomputers could slash energy bills by as much as 90 per cent — but there are challenges to overcome
Most notably that means redesigning motherboards and other hardware to work most effectively under Novec. Currently, of course, they’re designed to be efficiently cooled by air, and they will be need to be arranged differently to operate most effectively surrounded by liquid.
A proof-of-concept rig is running in the 3M office in St Paul, Minnesota, using Intel Xeon chips immersed in the liquid. It’s buzzing along nicely. It remains to be seen, of course, how quickly it will get from benchtop to server room — but the fact that it even might is pretty neat. [IT World]