Innovation That Matters

Incooling's servers include an in-built cooling system | Photo source Incooling

Cooling down computer servers

Computing & Tech

A new server design provides much more energy-efficient cooling and faster processing speeds

Spotted: Based on current growth projections, by 2030, global information and communications technology will be using more than 20 per cent of the planet’s entire energy output. This is incompatible with climate goals, making it imperative that server technology becomes more energy efficient as soon as possible. Because much of the energy consumed by data centres is used to keep servers cool, some believe that more efficient cooling is the answer. One company working on this is startup Incooling.

Incooling has designed a custom-built server with a proprietary cooling system that it claims manages heat much more efficiently than standard designs. The company achieves this using phase-change cooling, which takes advantage of the cooling fluid’s latent heat of vaporisation (the point at which it transitions from a liquid to a gas, and vice versa). In a phase-change cooling system, fluid collects heat until it vaporises. The gas then travels to the cooler part of the system where the heat dissipates, turning the gas back into a liquid.

The servers’ cooling system includes controls that can respond very rapidly to fluctuating heat loads. This super-fast response speed means the server uses less energy to keep its processor within safe temperature ranges. As an added bonus the system also reaches some of the fastest processor speeds of any commercially available server.

Co-founder and COO Helena Samodurova explains how this saves energy, saying, “Our two-phase cooling system is an active cooling system—thus, it requires energy—but in total it amounts in less energy than general cooling today. Unlike water cooling, there is no need for expensive water filtration, as there is no risk of bio growth and there is no risk of damage to the hardware in case of leakage.”

Finding ways of reducing the energy used to cool servers is the goal of a number of recent innovations. These include a server that doubles as a home heater and plans for a town in Norway that would be heated by a server farm.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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