Australian immersion cooling specialist Firmus is launching a bare-metal cloud service for AI and visual computing, in Asia Pacific data centers belonging to ST Telemedia Global Data Centres (STT GDC).

The Sustainable Metal Cloud (SMC) will offer infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) for high-performance AI clusters, running on Nvidia A100 & H100 GPUs in systems, which STT GDC describes as "sustainable AI factories"

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The SMC is made up of immersion tanks from Firmus, installed in 1MW shipping containers known as "Hypercubes" within STT GDC facilities in Singapore, India, and Australia. The Singapore availability zone (SIN01) will be launched first, before the end of 2023.

The Firmus Hypercube containers will hold servers from OEM partners including Supermicro, and offer services with "industry-standard" uptime SLAs, warranted directly to each customer.

Firmus - formerly known as Firmus Grid - was founded in 2019, and has been offering immersion-cooled AI systems running OpenStack and Kubernetes-based software from Canonical. STT GDC described the partnership as a "significant investment" into a global venture with the company.

Along with the HyperCube cloud product offered within the STT GDC partnership, the company sells an "Edge" offering, the Cube300 which can be delivered quickly and operated outside of traditional data centers.

The 300kW Cube300 containers hold 145 rack units of capacity, with N+1 reliability. These have a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of less than 1.05, and Firmus also rates them with the newer total-power usage efficiency (TUE), claiming a score of less than 1.15. They also take up around one-twelfth the space of comparable air-cooled systems.

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"The compound growth in forecasted energy consumption is an existential threat to the data center sector. Data center operators and their customers must be prepared to embrace and support new cooling solutions and expand the services they offer beyond traditional air-cooled colocation if they are to host AI GPU platforms in a sustainable manner," said Ted Pretty, Firmus Technologies chairman. "The vision of Firmus' founders was to invest in a long-term solution that will break the mold of the traditional data center model. They imagined the data center as an entire computing platform – a sustainable AI factory.

He said this evolution would "fundamentally change the way that all infrastructure operators are thinking about the design and operation of their facilities. STT GDC's foresight and long-term vision made them the ideal global partner for Firmus' highly developed solution.

Bruno Lopez, president and group chief executive, STT GDC, chipped in with: "The future of data centers will rely on the ability to provide both exceptional performance and highly sustainable services at scale. These high-performance services are a key component of the critical infrastructure needed to support the plethora of AI use cases that will be critical to business, governments, and society in years to come."

Last year New Zealand investment company Powerhouse Ventures invested AU$150,000 (US$107,000) in Tasmanian firm Firmus. The company previously operated a 20MW data center in Launceston, Tasmania. known as LST01 which had potential of up to 40MW. With the investment, Powerhouse said Firmus will be developing a new 20MW data center hall known as LST02 at its Launceston campus. The new facility had a target completion date of mid-2022. However, there is no mention of the facility on the company's website today.