Oct 27, 2011

What is the future of "green" server cooling at data centers?

I just saw that Facebook is placing a ton of servers in a facility in Sweden to save cost on cooling. There are a lot of cold places in the USA, a fact of which those of us north of the Mason-Dixon line are soon to be reminded. Do similar facilities for servers exist in the US? It would seem to be easier than establishing something across a big ocean.


I know that have been some efforts to make server cooling more “green” in the US.  One example that I have personally seen is a local university locating some servers in the desert area of a local public conservatory, with the goal not only being decreased cost to cool the servers, but also decreased heating cost for the conservatory.  In contrast to using chillers, which are the mechanical cooling devices in place at most large data centers that use a lot of energy; open air cooling can be significantly cheaper.  The downside is that it is much more difficult to control temperature fluctuations.  I would guess that one advantage of using the conservatory is that there are years of records showing temperature within the environment, so the min/max temperature is pretty predictable at this point.  Dell has recently started to warranty many of its servers to operate at 104 degrees for up to 900 hours a year and at 113 for 90 hours a year, so the expanded temperature range for server operations should help make it easier for big data centers to become greener in the future without the same level of concern as there is today that relatively small temperature increases will have significant impact on server longevity and performance

Hi ernard,

Sweden eh? Interesting. What about the arctic? Or maybe Antarctica? ;)

I guess they probably don't have pipes to go to Antarctica though. Heh, heh.

Here's an interesting article about Green Revolution's cooling product. I don't think it matters where it's located though.

Green Revolution’s Immersion Cooling in Action


"High-density cooling specialist Green Revolution Cooling has published photos and video of several installations of its product, which submerges servers in a liquid similar to mineral oil. The Austin, Texas startup said its cooling enclosures can eliminate the need for CRAC units and chillers, allowing users to cool high-density servers at a fraction of the cost of traditional racks.

Green Revolution’s CarnotJet Submersion Cooling System resembles a rack tipped over on its back, filled with 250 gallons of dielectric fluid, with servers inserted vertically into slots in the enclosure. Fluid temperature is maintained by a pump with a heat exchanger, which can be connected to a standard commercial evaporative cooling tower. The company says its solutions will work with OEM servers with slight modifications (removing unneeded fans, applying a coating to hard drives)."
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