6 cool innovations for the data center

By John Brandon, Computerworld |  Green IT, broadband, data center cooling

Liquid cooling for data centers is not a new concept, of course, but Green Revolution Cooling has added a new twist. For starters, the rack is turned on its side, which helps with cable management and makes it easier for administrators to access equipment, and the horizontal rack is surrounded by liquid. A new coolant, called GreenDEF, is made from mineral oil that is nontoxic, costs less than other liquid-cooling methods and is not electrically conductive like water, according to a GR Cooling spokesman.

"The liquid actually moves through the floor and circulates up through all of the computing nodes," says Tommy Minyard, director of advanced computing systems at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, part of the University of Texas at Austin. This means more-effective cooling because heat is moved away from the processors via cables on the sides and under the rack, he explains. Minyard is installing GR Cooling systems in his data center and expects a 30% to 40% savings compared to traditional air-cooled systems.

Data center cooling device

Green Revolution uses horizontal devices for racks, along with a new type of coolant, to reduce energy costs in a data center.

Minyard says liquid cooling has made a rebound lately, recalling the days when Cray offered submerged cooling systems, and he notes that even IBM is moving back into chilled-liquid-cooling some compute nodes.

Pund-IT's King says a major issue is that enterprises have fought the return of liquid cooling in the data center because of the high costs of implementing the technology and because it is unproven as a widespread option.

"Liquid cooling usually costs much more to install upfront than air cooling," says Mark Tlapak, GR Cooling's co-founder. "Compared to air, every liquid cooling system has some added nuance, such as electric conductivity with water-based cooling systems. " But, he says, "spring a leak in the water systems, and you lose electrical equipment." Still, for Minyard, GR Cooling is an ideal fit: His data center gravitates toward dense, powerful systems that pack intense power into small spaces, such as IBM blade servers and the latest Intel processors. The Ranger supercomputer, for example, uses 30kw of power per rack.

3. Several broadband lines combined into one

Enterprises can spend many thousands of dollars on fiber-optic lines and multiple T1 connections, but at least one emerging technology is aiming to provide a lower-cost alternative.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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