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Intel Stores Servers in Oil to Reduce Energy

Intel has completed a yearlong test of Green Revolution Cooling’s oil-based coolant for server storage, and found the technology can reduce data centers’ energy usage.

Intel says oil-cooled systems only use another 2 or 3 percent of their power for cooling, compared with a typical air-cooled server, which uses 50 or 60 percent, reports Wired.

Green Revolution’s CarnotJet cooling system — in which servers are submerged in tanks of vegetable oil (pictured) — can reduce cooling energy use by 90 to 95 percent and reduce server power by 10 to 20 percent, according to the company.

It says the installation costs are lower than those of comparable air-cooled systems, with retrofit paybacks as low as one year and typically less than three years.

The oil is safe to use on the servers’ processors, hard drives and other components, Gigaom reports. After the test, Intel sent its servers to a failure analysis lab, which found the yearlong oil bath had “no ill effects” on the machines.

Additionally, storing servers in Green Revolution’s oil-cooled system means the servers do not collect dust, which raises server temperatures and reduces reliability. According to Phys.org, dust accumulation can increase power use by 2 percent. It reports that Green Revolution’s coolant circulation is “excellent” and doesn’t have uniform temperature hot spots.

Midas Networks, Texas Advanced Computing Center and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm have all installed Green Revolution Cooling’s CarnotJet system, the company says.

In August, Intel and South Korean telecom company KT Corporation showcased a high-temperature ambient test center in in Cheonan, South Korea. The technology works by allowing data centers to operate in temperatures higher than 30 degrees Celsius, which would help cut energy costs. The companies say if the technology was applied to every data center in South Korea, it would save up to $39.6 million annually.

About half the power used by a typical data centers supports its infrastructure, including cooling systems, according to the US Department of Energy.

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2 thoughts on “Intel Stores Servers in Oil to Reduce Energy

  1. A fantastic innovation – solves a variety of problems with the environmental impact of servers. I’ll be recommending this article to a couple of colleagues.

    I have one concern as there’s a question that was not answered in the article, which could have a devastating environmental impact, reducing biodiversity and increasing climate change: What is the source of the vegetable oil? If it’s palm oil, then this innovation may encourage increased de-forestation in Indonesia and Malaysia, impacting on critically endangered orangutan populations.

    If this solution does not use that oil, then bravo. If it does, then an alternate oil should be sourced/tested.

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