Iceotope, Mellanox Plunge HPC Switches Into Liquid Cooling
One of Iceotope’s liquid cooling systems on display at the SC14 conference this week in New Orleans, where the company has launched its new PetaGen design. (Photo: Rich Miller)

Iceotope, Mellanox Plunge HPC Switches Into Liquid Cooling

Vendors announce submerged liquid-cooled InfiniBand and Ethernet network and interconnect switches for supercomputers

Cooling specialist Iceotope, in partnership with Mellanox, announced a total liquid-cooled InfiniBand- and Ethernet-based network and interconnect switch targeted at high-performance computing installations.

Submerging electronics in dielectric fluid is an unorthodox approach to cooling that is gaining popularity in the HPC sector. There are also some signs of higher interest in the approach among companies with high-density compute requirements that don't run traditional HPC workloads.

The jointly developed fan-less switches take one standard slot inside of the Iceotope Petagen cabinet, which it developed with Intel and launched late last year. Citing the significant efficiency benefits that liquid cooling brings, Iceotope noted that the switches are cooled with warm water (of up to 45C/113F). They will complement blade servers in the Petagen cabinet, where up to 60 kW of IT load can be provisioned.

Going toward an entirely fan-less HPC deployment, Iceotope founder and chief visionary office Peter Hopton said HPC is "embracing liquid cooling at a remarkable rate. It’s just a case of technologies being available to match demand. Until now, it was widely accepted that the interconnect switch would never be liquid cooled. It’s great to be able say that, thanks to our work with Mellanox, that’s no longer the case."

UK-based Iceotope has developed patented technology around its convective cell -- a sealed immersion device that harnesses the power of natural convection. The company has worked with 3M Novec and Solvay Galden PFPE on primary and secondary coolants inside of its system.

Mellanox switches supported in the Petagen cabinet include a 36-port FDR 56 Gbps InfiniBand and 40/56Gb Ethernet. Iceotope said it is looking to support technologies such as EDR 100Gbps InfiniBand as part of its development pipeline.

"Liquid cooling is an extremely exciting proposition in the HPC market," said Gilad Shainer, vice president of marketing at Mellanox. "Mellanox is dedicated to providing best-of-breed products and solutions for HPC, and we are pleased to collaborate with Iceotope to further data center efficiency with high-quality liquid cooled alternatives to air."

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