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Video: NREL Evaluates Aquarius Liquid Cooling Technology for HPC

Today Aquila announced delivery and installation of the first ever fixed cold plate liquid cooled Aquarius HPC system. Sandia National Laboratories has deployed the system at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in order to fully study the benefits of Aquila’s fixed cold plate warm water cooling technology.

We are excited to be working with NREL and Sandia National Laboratories, as these DOE labs provide a leadership position in innovative liquid cooling and other cutting-edge efficiency-driven data center technologies,” said Judy Beckes Talcott, President of Aquila. “We feel their leadership will help shape the future of HPC and influence the modern data center designer towards adoption of liquid cooling. Our shared vision holds the promise of improving data center energy efficiency by as much as 50%.”

This patented technology, licensed and designed in conjunction with Clustered Systems, promises to nearly meet immersion technology’s cooling efficiency, while taking advantage of OCP-inspired 12VDC power conversion efficiencies. Other benefits of Aquarius’ HPC rack technology include: extreme density without trade-offs, enhanced reliability and robustness, near silent operation, unparalleled ease-of-use, ease of service, and the industry’s best ROI and TCO.

Aquarius racks are designed for long-term reliability and re-use, allowing customers to launch their next-gen servers with only minimal re-engineering. The racks feature a forward-looking OCPV2 form factor, and are capable of attaching directly to existing data center facility water infrastructure in conjunction with a rack mount Cooling Distribution Unit (CDU) from Aquila’s preferred CDU supplier, Motivair.

Sandia maintains a constant drive to reduce energy use in HPC and make our centers as energy efficient as possible,” said David Martinez, Engineering Program Project Lead for Infrastructure Computing Services at Sandia National Laboratories. “Sandia address the problem from a systems process viewpoint. Liquid cooling systems extract heat directly from server board components and can prevent speed throttling due to overheating. Our New Mexico climate permits use of non-mechanical cooling, which, when combined with warm water inlet temperatures, saves considerable energy. We can now capture energy from the elevated return water to support indirect energy needs, such as process water, domestic hot water, and absorption cooling processes. Aquila’s fixed cold plate liquid-cooled HPC system lowers the cost of cooling. The Sandia-named “Yacumama” cluster we’ve deployed in Colorado will be returned to service at Sandia after rigorous testing at NREL’s water cooled HPC center.”

Aquarius Rack Design

The Aquarius design is an innovative departure from other non-immersion liquid cooled solutions that employ DLC CPU heat sink technologies. The Aquarius manifold and fixed cold plate design eliminate the possibility of leakage during servicing, as there are no plastic tubes or quick disconnects anywhere in the system. The fixed cold plate and robust manifold design uses only electrochemically compatible metals, eliminating the potential for water contamination due to corrosion.

Compute power requirements for HPC, mobility, OpenStack, and SDN data center applications continue to escalate the need for solutions that address density. And data centers cooled with air have fundamental restrictions on power density,” explains Phil Hughes, CEO of Clustered Systems. “Sandia and NREL get it. Warm water liquid cooling has none of these restrictions and can be packed very densely, without a need for a specialized forced-air driven building.”

The Aquarius advanced warm-water cooled platform provides several competitive advantages over air:

  • A nearly 50% energy savings on the overall server power envelope, allowing for the additional cost of the rack to be recovered within the first year of power savings.
  • A near zero failure rate due to the elimination of fan vibration and enhanced thermal stability, which reduces sudden expansion/contraction component stress.
  • Cooling for all of the server’s major heat sources, not just the CPU (as with most providers of DLC heat removal technologies). Aquarius is capable of cooling over 75kW per standard rack footprint.
  • A 5x increase in server density, housing up to two 2.5” HDDs or SSDs at each node, and equally supporting fully virtualized storage and hybridized storage approaches.
  • Savings of up to 30% of a server’s power budget, due to the elimination of all server fans. This normally stranded energy can be used to power more servers, further adding to overall energy efficiency

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