The digital economy has brought uncounted positive benefits, but it has also created one major sustainability problem. What to do about the growing energy requirements of larger, more power-hungry servers and supercomputers? And what to do about the heat given off by these larger, more powerful machines and data centers that make huge demands on air conditioning to keep them cool and functioning? Some supercomputers’ annual energy bills run into tens of millions of dollars, while the biggest corporate data centers have electricity bills in the hundreds of millions, much of that for air conditioning. One obvious answer is to locate large data centers in the cool climate of Scandinavia, as have Facebook and Google. Another recent, solution is to submerge supercomputers in liquids for cooling. Such facilities use less electricity and eliminate or reduce the need for costly air conditioning equipment. At the Tokyo Institute of Technology, a supercomputer submerged in a tank of mineral oil has been named by the Green500, an industry ranking, as the most energy-efficient machine of its kind. This computer is 50 percent more powerful than its predecessor, but uses only the same amount of energy with the immersion technology, developed by Green Revolution Cooling, a Texas firm. Iceotope, a U.K. start-up, is submerging its computers in liquid fluorplastic. And Allied Control, a Hong Kong company that designs cooling systems, is using submersion technology for its new data center. It’s estimated that submersive cooling could cut energy bills and infrastructure costs in half. Now there’s an innovation that goes immediately to where it counts, the bottom line.
I’m John Howell for 3BL Media.