Data centers use massive amounts of power to run computers and equipment as well as to keep them cool. The power needed translates to the primary recurring costs that data centers incur but with the unveiling of a new supercomputer with a pioneering cooling technology, data centers may soon be able to save as much as 95 percent of their cooling energy costs.

The proof-of-concept supercomputer SGI ICE X, which was developed by Intel and SGI, uses a special cooling technology that can lead to a significant reduction in energy bills. Unlike most computers that need an external cooling system, the supercomputer is kept cool by completely submerging the electronics in a fluid called Novec.

The idea is similar to submerging the computer's components in water to keep them cool only that 3M'S Novec fluid is a dielectric which means that electronics can be safely submerged into it and the components will continue to work normally. Novec surrounds the hardware and absorbs the heat so it is kept cool at constant temperature.

Intel and SGI tapped on Novec for the cooling system as it could replace fans and reduce water consumption. Use of 3M's two-phase liquid immersion cooling technology can also save space, which is actually one of the current concerns of many data centers.

Data centers are facing space constraints and finding it difficult to generate airflow needed for cooling powerful servers but a supercomputer submerged in Novec needs 10 times less space than what is required in conventional air cooling thereby saving space. The components of the computer can be packed tightly as well.

"Through this collaboration with Intel and 3M, we are able to demonstrate a proof-of-concept showcasing an extremely innovative capability to reduce energy use in data centers, while optimizing performance," said SGI President and CEO Jorge Titinger. "Built entirely on industry-standard hardware and software components, the SGI ICE X solution enables significant decreases in energy requirements for customers, lowering total cost of ownership and impact on the environment."

3M, SGI and Intel are working with the Naval Research Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs and APC by Schneider Electric, which will deploy the system to evaluate and demonstrate the viability of the technology.

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