HPC in the tub

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Nick Carr has another piece that caught my attention today, this time on a “new” cooling technology. UK company Very-PC is proposing submersion of computers for better cooling:

In tests, server racks were immersed in tanks of oil normally used to keep machinery cool. A refrigeration unit positioned below was used to create convection currents that draw heat away from the electronics, which is much more energy efficient than using fans.

Sound familiar? Let’s continue on; Nick’s piece concludes:

A Purdue University cooling expert, quoted by New Scientist [ed: N.S. ran the original story], is skeptical of the idea. He believes that if you’re going to put your servers in a bathtub, you should use a special dielectric coolant liquid called Fluorinert rather than machine oil.

And now we’re all the way back to Seymour Cray’s cooling technology (and it probably goes back farther than that, I just know about Cray’s computers because his approach to liquid cooling was de rigeur when I started in this field). Everything old is new again.

[This piece was also pointed out to me by reader Jay Blair, but I read my email after I scoured the web to bring you today’s news. Sorry about that, Jay.]