Intel Is Ready To Dunk Computers In Oil To Keep Them Cool

Computer submerged in oil
Computer submerged in oil

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You know how hot your laptop can get when you use it for hours? Imagine how hot servers—the high-powered computers that run websites and apps—must get.Now imagine a whole building full of servers running at full tilt—and grab some ice water.

Keeping data centres cool is a major engineering problem, not to mention an ecological one. Intel is working on a new approach: submerging them in oil.

Intel just concluded a year-long test of the tech with immersion-equipment company Green Revolution Cooling. It has declared that its chips are ready for the dunked-in-oil technique, reports Rich Miller at Data centre Knowledge.

Today, data centres use air cooling. This means things like building bigger buildings, so servers can be spread out, plus limiting the number of servers in each building.

If liquid cooling works—as Intel’s tests show it does—this means that existing buildings can house more computers and each one can run more workloads. 

Plus, submerged computers may be more powerful because faster CPUs usually require more power which produces more heat.

The liquid involved is mineral oil which reduces heat like water, but doesn’t conduct electricity.

Submerged desktop PCs have actually been around for years. Below we’ve posted a video that shows one being built in 2007. And some old-school supercomputers used liquid refrigerants. But submerged high-performance computers running in a data centre are new and could be a fantastic alternative as the world moves to cloud computing.

Cloud computing is where applications are run in a data centre and accessed from a PC, mobile phone or tablet.  The cloud requires lots of servers in lots of data centres. This could be a great new way to cool them.