IBM Unveils Chilled Water Cooling Plans

IBM has unveiled its plans for an eServer Rear Door Heat eXchanger – already being dubbed “Cool Blue” – that will use chilled water to cool high-density cabinets using water from a data center’s air conditioning system.

As blade servers become more commonplace and enterprises look to consolidate their data center operations, IT managers are getting used to the idea of having water and servers in physical proximity. While water-chilled systems were common in the mainframe era, most modern data centers have been designed to keep water off the raised floor area, opting for halon fire suppression systems instead of sprinklers.

But high-density cabinets jammed with blade servers have changed the equation, generating more heat inside a cabinet than can be easily managed using cooled air systems. Some vendors have opted for products using gas refrigerants, but chilled water has been gaining in usage, and IBM’s adoption will likely lower the barriers even further.

IBM has its own agenda, of course. Big Blue wants to sell more of its eServer Cluster 1350 high-density computing system. Concerns about cooling these configurations are a potential drag on sales, so IBM can probably help sales if it can wear down resistance to water cooling.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.