Data Center Cooling Solutions, Including Liquid Immersion Cooling – Emails and other communications sent between Microsoft employees who are literally pumping water into a steel box filled with computer servers at this data center on the east bank of the Columbia River.
Unlike water, the water in the tank is not harmful to electrical equipment and is designed to boil at 122 degrees Fahrenheit, 90 degrees lower than the boiling point of water.
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The boiling effect, created by the work done by the servers, takes heat from the working computer equipment. The low-temperature boiler allows servers to run continuously at full power without the risk of failure due to heat.
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Inside the tank, steam from the boiling water enters a cooled condenser in the tank lid, where the steam turns to water and rains down on the surfaces of the tank, closed, creating a closed-loop cooling system.
“We are the first cloud provider to run two-tier streaming in a production environment,” said Husam Alissa, a senior software engineer in Microsoft’s enterprise computing development group in Redmond, Washington.
Ioannis Manousakis, a senior software engineer with Azure (left) and Husam Alissa, a senior software engineer in Microsoft’s Advanced Data Development group (right), look into a two-part cooling box in a data center of Microsoft. Photo by Gene Twedt for Microsoft.
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The announcement of two-stage immersion cooling is the next step in Microsoft’s long-term strategy to keep up with the demand for faster and more powerful data center PCs at a time when the reliable advancement of air-cooled computer chip technology .
For decades, chip growth has been driven by the ability to pack more transistors onto the same size chip, with the speed of computer processors doubling every two years without increasing their power requirements.
This trend is called Moore’s Law after Intel founder Gordon Moore, who discovered the trend in 1965 and predicted it would continue for at least a decade. It closed in 2010 and began to slow down.
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This is because the width of the transistor is reduced to the atomic scale at the physical limits. Currently, the demand for high-speed computing hardware is for high-performance applications such as artificial intelligence, Alissa said.
To meet the need for performance, the computing industry has turned to chip factories that can handle electricity. For example, central processing units, or CPUs, have increased from 150 watts to more than 300 watts per chip. Graphics processing units, or GPUs, have grown to more than 700 watts per chip.
The more electricity is pumped through these devices, the hotter the components become. Rising temperatures have increased cooling requirements to prevent chip damage.
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“Air cooling is not enough,” said Christian Belady, senior engineer and vice president of Microsoft’s advanced technology development group in Redmond. “That’s what leads us to overwintering, where we can boil the chips directly.”
What’s more, he added, changing water flow produces a similar Moore’s Law effect for all data.
“Water flow allows us to get denser, and therefore continue the Moore’s Law phenomenon at the data center level,” he said.
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Christian Belady, senior engineer and vice president of Microsoft’s advanced software development group, stands next to a dual cooler in a Microsoft data center. Photo by Gene Twedt for Microsoft.
Water cooling is a proven technique known as Belady. Most cars on the road today rely on it to protect engines from overheating. Some tech companies, including Microsoft, are experimenting with cold plate technology, where water flows across metal plates, to cool servers.
Those involved in the cryptocurrency industry pioneered liquid cooling for computing devices, using it to cool the chips that record digital currency transactions.
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Microsoft has been researching liquid cooling as a cooling solution for high-performance computing applications such as AI. Among other things, the investigation showed that cooling twice reduced power consumption for any given server from 5% to 15%.
The findings led the Microsoft team to work with Wiwynn, a data center IT system manufacturer and designer, to develop a two-part cooling solution. The first solution is running in Microsoft’s data center in Quincy.
That sleeping bag is filled with a liquid made by 3M. 3M’s liquid coolants have dielectric properties that make them good insulators, allowing terminals to function normally when completely filled with water.
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This change in two-phase liquid cooling can increase flexibility for better management of cloud resources, according to Marcus Fontoura, a technical partner and business president at Microsoft that is the architect quantity of Azure computing.
For example, software that manages cloud resources can distribute dynamic data center compute demands to servers in cold water tanks. That’s because these servers can run at high power—a process called overclocking—without overheating.
“For example, we see with Teams when you get to 1 or 2 in the afternoon, there’s a huge spike because people are joining meetings at the same time,” Fontoura said. “Immersion cooling gives us more flexibility to handle these workloads.”
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Hot water removes heat generated by computer servers in a Microsoft data center. Microsoft is the first cloud provider to use dual-core cooling in a production environment. Photo by Gene Twedt for Microsoft.
Adding two immersion-cooled servers to the mix of available computing resources also allows machine learning software to efficiently manage these resources through centralized data, from power and cooling to storage technologies, Fontoura adds.
“We not only have a huge impact on efficiency, but also a huge impact on sustainability because you make sure that every piece of IT that we use is going to be used effectively,” he said.
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Liquid cooling is a waterless technology that will help Microsoft meet its commitment to replenish water before the end of these years.
Cooling coils run inside the tank and allow the steam to condense in a special closed-loop system that uses water to transfer heat from the tank to a dryer outside the tank. explode. Because the water in these coils is warmer than the ambient air, there’s no need to spray water to heat the air for vaporization, Alissa explains.
Microsoft, along with business partners, is researching how to operate reservoirs in ways that reduce water loss and have little impact on the environment.
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“If done right, it will meet all of our cost, reliability and performance requirements at the same time with more power compared to air cooling,” says Ioannis Manousakis, principal software engineer with Azure.
A Microsoft company is exploring two-phase cooling technology. Pictured left to right: Dave Starkenburg, director of data center management, Christian Belady, distinguished engineer and vice president of Microsoft’s advanced development group, Ioannis Manousakis, senior software engineer with Azure and Husam Alissa, Principal Hardware Engineer in Microsoft’s Advanced Data Center Group. development. Photo by Gene Twedt for Microsoft.
Microsoft’s research into two-phase immersion cooling is part of the company’s multi-pronged plan to make data centers more durable and efficient to build, operate and maintain.
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For example, the advanced data center development team is exploring the possibility of using hydrogen fuel cells instead of diesel generators to generate power in data centers.
The water-cooling project is similar to Microsoft’s Project Natick, which is exploring the possibility of underwater databanks that can be installed quickly and can operate for years above sea level in tubes similar to submarines without human attention .
Instead of an artificial liquid, the underwater database is filled with dry nitrogen air. The stations are cooled by fans and a heat exchanger piping system that pumps tap water through sealed pipes.
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A key finding from Project Natick is that offshore servers experience one-eighth the failure rate of replica servers in a land-based data center. The first analysis shows that the lack of moisture and the corrosive effects of oxygen are the main responsibility for the most efficient operation of underwater stations.
Alissa believes the stations in the immersion tank will perform just as well. “We took the sea to the stations before we put the data under the sea,” he said.
Ioannis Manousakis, a senior software engineer with Azure, removes the server surface from a two-phase cooling system in a Microsoft data center. Photo by Gene Twedt for Microsoft.
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If the dive-box servers see a drop in failure rates as expected, Microsoft could move to a model where components aren’t immediately replaced when they fail. This will limit steam loss and allow tank storage in remote and hard-to-serve areas.
On the other hand, the ability to securely store servers in boxes allows for a new server design optimized for low load, high-performance applications and low power consumption, Belady said.
Such a box could, for example, be placed under a 5G cell tower in the middle of a city for applications such as self-driving cars.
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Currently, Microsoft has a box running in a high-scale data center. For the next few months, the Microsoft team
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