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Liquid cooling is well on its way to success in the high-performance computing (HPC) field, according to British company Iceotope, which launched its Petagen product in November, with help from Intel.

High performance computing has a greater need for cooling, and liquid is a more efficient way to remove it. This also has the added benefit that the heat is in a form where it can be used, Iceotope and its partners told the media at a briefing in London this week, however, in many instances the first benefit to be seen is an ability to run the kit faster.

“Data centers are wasteful,” said Iceotope founder Peter Hopton. “They don’t give much back to the local economy”. Harvesting the waste heat form data centers can provide some payback to surrounding offices and homes, he said.

Data centers are wasteful 

Iceotope founder Peter Hopton

Iceotope was started some ten years, with the aim of brinign liquid cooling into regular sized blade servers. The company has had prototype systems since 2010, and racked up millions of core-hours of liquid cooled CPU time, Hopton said.

Productized as Petagen, the system has now been tested in 16 “real” deployments, three of which have turned into full production use.

One of those customers. Dr Jon Summers of the University of Leeds, warned that computing is using more energy; it is expected to overtake the aviation industry, and produce four percent of the world’s greenhouse gases by 2020.

Live systems

Air-cooling servers will require 55W to remove 2kW of heat, driving air at 100litres per second in the process. By contrast, liquid can remove the same heat using only 1W to drive the required fluid, said Summers.

Other benefits include the fact that the heat that is removed can be piped for a longer distance in a liquid, and still be used. And the servers run silently without a raised floor, so they can be placed in normal offices.

“There is a lot of activity in direct liquid cooling,” said analyst Andrew Donoghue of 451 Research, “but deployments are generally not massive.” Donoghue listed firms involved, including Green Revolution Cooling, Asetek, Chilldyne and LiquidCool.