The Liquid Blade from Hardcore Computer, which immerses blade servers in dielectric fluid coolant. Sun co-founder Scott McNealy is now an advisor to Hardcore.

Liquid Blade: Submerged Blade Servers

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One of the new Liquid Blade units from Hardcore Computer, which cools the blades with a non-conductive liquid cooling solution.

In the past year we’ve seen several new cooling systems that submerge rack-mount servers. Now liquid cooling is coming to blade servers.

Hardcore Computer, which specializes in water-cooled PCs, introduced its new Liquid Blade product at the recent Blade Systems Insight Summit 2010, where it was presented the Best Datacenter Innovation Award.

The Liquid Blade platform features two Intel 5500 or 5600 series Xeon processors, housed in a chassis that immerses the blades in Hardcore’s Core Coolant – a clear dielectric fluid that is odorless and biodegradable. Each blade chassis is 2.6 inches wide, 7 inches high and 32 inches deep. Seven of the chassis can fit in a 5U shelf in a 19-inch rack or cabinet.

Efficiency, Cost Advantages Touted
Liquid cooling provides a more efficient heat transfer than air, and offers potential savings to companies that can commit to a liquid-cooled design. Liquid Blade’s submerged servers eliminate the need for rack-level fans, and would require only enough room air conditioning to keep staff comfortable. Hardcore says its system requires no specialized fire protection systems for the servers, since all the blade components are submerged.

“Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of our liquid submersion cooling technology in the datacenter is a 60 percent or more reduction in cooling cost compared to traditional air-cooling or air-conditioning-cooling,” said Chad Attlesey, the CTO of Hardcore Computer. “Our Core Coolant is 1,350 times better than air, by volume. This minimizes the need for air conditioning and air moving equipment inside the datacenter.

Submersion cooling isn’t new. Mineral oil has been used in immersion cooling because it is not hazardous, transfers heat almost as well as water but doesn’t conduct an electric charge.

Many readers may be familiar with Fluorinert, a dielectric coolant from 3M that was used in the Cray 2 and other supercomputers. In recent months we’ve featured two new immersion cooling solutions for rack-mount servers from Iceotope and Green Revolution.

Render Farms As a Use Case
Liquid Blade can be configured with a graphics board, and Hardcore is touting its capabilities for advanced video rendering workloads such as medical imaging, digital content render farms, computer-aided design, engineering simulation and modeling and distributed network gaming.

Hardcore says Liquid Blade is currently available to approved “early ship” customers, with general availability to follow in September.

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.

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9 Comments

  1. So, now that watts per square foot is no longer the metric, should we start worrying about pounds per square foot? What will a cabinet full if these things weigh?

  2. pete

    Hardware fun. Cannot wait until some idiot drops a few million worth of these through the 3rd or 4th floor of some multimillion dollar complex. "You mean weight is a factor?" Just remember to publish pics, whoever you are.

  3. Peter Wone

    If it were metric, it would be watts per square metre. If it were kilogrammes of force per square metre, it would be most appropriate to specify kilopascals because a ratio of force to area is a pressure. The improved heat transfer rate of liquid cooling suggest that with appropriate design might increase the number of blades per square metre, substantially mitigating any weight increase. I rather doubt Fluorinert is denser than water, and a floor that won't support a waterbed is unlawful in civilised countries. Nevertheless, it's an interesting point you raise.

  4. Arellias

    @Brad Wilson I can totally see your point in a traditional data center where you would be converting to this system, but with this system, there would not be that big of a need for raised floors as a tremendous percent of the cooling in the room would be handled by the immersion bath. The rest of the data center could probably be cooled with considerably smaller A/C units.

  5. Phil Tuma

    Good discussion on power density. Indeed immersion cooling requires no raised floors nor any air handling equipment whatsoever. Poeple also need to realize that immersion cooling enables power densities way beyond what most of us are used to. 4 kW per liter of volume has recently been demonstrated. Thats like 20 conventional 1U servers in a 2 liter pop bottle. Conventional notions of power per unit floorspace will go out the window when PCBs are designed to take advantage of this capability. It remains to see how the electronics designers will respond.