An innovative and environmentally friendly solution for managing modern data centers
While you may be marveling at the prowess of a tool like ChatGPT, you’ve probably never asked yourself how much electricity and water it takes to run an AI product like this, especially to keep all those supercomputers cool. In September 2023, an Associated Press article shed light on the substantial amount of water needed to operate OpenAI, which powers ChatGPT, not to mention Microsoft’s global water consumption, which is equivalent to 2500 Olympic-sized swimming pools per year! To put it into perspective, every 48 hours, a typical data center consumes enough water to fill an Olympic-sized pool…
Not only Microsoft, but other major IT companies are also engaged in running high-performance computing (HPC) applications. These applications are instrumental in processing vast amounts of data and performing complex calculations across diverse sectors, including AI, finance, manufacturing, infrastructure, and transportation. The continuous global expansion of digitalization, coupled with the lightning-fast processing of enormous volumes of information due to the growing middle-class population adopting smartphones and tablets, has led us to a perfect storm. In this scenario, the necessity to reduce overall energy consumption has become more pressing than ever.
Data centers sit at the heart of this storm and must get creative, moving beyond traditional power-hungry air-cooling methods to balance the demands of digital growth with efficiency and environmental sustainability. To address this challenge, immersion cooling has emerged as a game-changing solution. Let’s explore the fundamentals of this groundbreaking technology and its unrivalled benefits for managing modern data centers within a sustainable, data-driven ecosystem.
What is Immersion Cooling?
Immersion cooling is a method used to rapidly cool IT hardware, which includes heat-generating server components such as microprocessors and graphics cards., by submerging them in a non-conductive liquid coolant. The heat generated by these components efficiently transfers directly to the liquid, resulting in the highest level of efficiency and virtually unlimited capacity.
The concept of immersion cooling isn’t new; it has historical roots dating back to the 1970s when mainframe systems were liquid-cooled. In the 1990s, it expanded to high-performance video games and custom-built PCs. Between 2005 and 2010, data centers started adopting liquid cooling through technologies like chilled doors, and in subsequent years, it found applications in high-performance computing (HPC) environments, offering direct contact and total immersion cooling solutions.
The Benefits of Immersion Cooling
Immersion cooling offers unparalleled benefits, particularly in terms of efficiency, reliability, and scalability. In a world where data centers consume more than 250 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity, accounting for approximately 1% of global electricity demand and 0.3% of global carbon emissions, the significance of this technology cannot be overstated. Immersion cooling excels in achieving maximum performance with minimal power usage, resulting in immediate savings. Data centers that employ immersion cooling solutions can reduce their operational costs (OpEx) by up to 95%, their capital costs (CapEx) by 50%, capture 99% of heat in the form of warm water, consume zero water, thus reducing their carbon footprint, optimizing building costs, increasing density, and extending the lifespan of hardware.
Why Data Centers Must Embrace Immersion Cooling Now
In the ever-accelerating world of data, data centers stand at a crossroads, where the decision they make today will shape their future. The demand for processing power and data storage is exploding, fueled by AI, automation, and machine learning. Traditional cooling methods are struggling to keep pace, and the consequences are significant.
- Imminent energy crisis: Data centers are voracious consumers of energy, accounting for nearly 1% of the world’s electricity usage. With rising demand, they stand on the brink of an energy crisis. Immersion cooling provides a lifeline, minimizing power consumption and shielding data centers from escalating energy costs.
- Financial stability at risk: The financial stability of data centers is threatened as operating costs steadily increase, and traditional cooling methods become unsustainable. Immersion cooling offers a compelling solution, providing significantly improved efficiency by cutting operational expenses by up to 95% and reducing capital costs by half. Without adopting this technology, data centers are left facing an uncertain and challenging future.
- Environmental responsibility and government scrutiny: The urgency of environmental responsibility has put data centers under a growing regulatory spotlight. For example, in January 2023, the US Department of Energy implemented more rigorous standards for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment in data centers. Additionally, the European Parliament and Council of the EU have recently issued a Directive that mandates data centers exceeding 1 MW to capture and use excess heat and perform cost-benefit analyses for new or extensively renovated installations.
Data Centers’ substantial carbon emissions and high water usage have become unsustainable. Immersion cooling stands out as a transformative solution, significantly cutting energy consumption and eliminating the need for water. Furthermore, its ability to capture and repurpose heat places data centers on a path towards a more sustainable and environmentally-conscious future. In an era marked by increased environmental awareness and increased government scrutiny, adopting immersion cooling is a necessity for the data center industry.
In this critical moment, we must recognize the hidden costs of powering advanced AI tools such as ChatGPT and other HPC applications, with their significant electricity and water demands for cooling. Recent revelations about water consumption draw attention to the environmental challenges in the tech industry. Data centers, at the heart of this challenge, are struggling with a spike in demand for processing power, increasing operational costs, and environmental scrutiny. Immersion cooling stands out as a transformative solution, reducing power consumption by nearly 50%, ensuring financial stability, and championing sustainability by eliminating water consumption. It’s not just a trend; it’s an essential step for data centers to secure their future and take a stand for environmental responsibility. The time to adopt immersion cooling is now, before it’s too late.
To date, Hypertec has successfully deployed over 250,000 computer cores cooled by immersion technology, establishing our role as pioneer and leader in this field. Our TRIDENT iC 6th Generation series servers are purpose-built for immersion cooling environments, ensuring optimal energy efficiency and sustainability for high-performance applications.
https://hypertec.com/immersion-cooling/: DATA CENTER Frontier SPECIAL REPORT
New Data Center Efficiency Imperatives: How Immersion Cooling is Evolving Density and Design
This post is also available in: FR