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The California Energy Commission (CEC) is buying ‘direct-to-chip’ liquid cooling for its two super computing data centers, from Danish cooling vendor Asetek.

The large scale facilities, both in California, have a total of 90 racks of servers that will be cooled by new RackCDU D2C (direct to chip) systems to be supplied by Asetek. 

The installation will also call for additional monitoring equipment to be integrated with the infrastructure in order to count energy-savings, cost-savings and computational performance in the 12 months following installation. The results of the new system will be made public in a report that the CEC will publish once the project has complete.

asetek liquid cooler for hp z400 workstation
Asetek liquid cooler for HPZ400

Funding for the project – which is expected to last two years - is to be provided through California’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) programme, which is managed by the CEC.

Cooler than California?

Asetek was selected from six other rivals in the liquid cooling for data center market, in a bidding process that went through multiple phases of competitive bidding. The project is planned to start on July 1, 2015, with the hardware installed in two phases, the first after six months, and the second after month 13.

“This deal will provide a short term boost for Asetek which has won similar contracts before including a $2.4 million project with the US DoD in 2014,” said Andrew Donoghue, European Research Manager at 451 Research, but he cautioned that adoption of direct liquid cooling (DLC) outside the HPC field is still “relatively low and sporadic”. 

Outside of HPC, current rack densities are lower than 5kW per rack, at a level where DLC is not a serious option, said Donoghue. In future, however, data centers will not have uniform power densities: w”DLC could enable pockets of high-density to exist in mostly free-air cooled, low-density facilities.”

Asetek CEO Andre Eriksen founded the company in 2000 and initially made cooling systems for computers (shown here). These have been sold on an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) basis to companies such as HP Dell and AMD, but two years ago, following an IPO (initial public offering) Eriksen branched out to focus on the data center industry.

“The market moved at glacial speed initially, but I knew it would take off eventually,” said Eriksen. The biggest previous sale was a 30 rack deal with Cray. Cray also sells a cluster supercomputer (the Cray CS400-LC) which contains liquid cooling technology from Asetek.

Asetek RackCDU

This new deal is more than double the size of its previous record sale, however. The 90 racks of the CEC data centers each consume around 20kw, leading to an estimated total power saving of 2 MegaWatt, according to Eriksen.  

Asetek also cleared some legal business last week, agreeing to settle a legal dispute in which another liquid cooling company, CoolIt, had sued Asetek over a patent for heat exchanger technology.