IBM advances hot-water cooling

Jun 19, 2012 3:12 PM
Unveils first commercial, hot-water-cooled supercomputer.

IBM has unveiled a commercially-available supercomputer that uses hot-water cooling technology first introduced in Zurich almost two years ago.

Big Blue said the new hot-water cooled supercomputer was owned by Leibniz Supercomputing Centre in Germany.

It said its hot-water cooling technology eliminated the need to run traditional air-cooling systems, and was up to 4000 times more efficient than air at removing heat.

The first outing for hot-water cooling technology was in a supercomputer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

The Swiss machine was developed under an IBM program called First-of-a-Kind, which basically allows customers to pilot technology being developed by IBM scientists.

IBM's hot-water cooling technology directly cools active components in the supercomputer - for example, the processors and memory modules - "with coolant temperatures that can reach as high as 45 degrees Celsius".

The company said the technology was "inspired by the human circulatory system."

"Similar to how blood and oxygen are delivered throughout the body, micro-channel liquid coolers transport water directly to the processors, and then carry away the heat," IBM said in a video.

"The heat is then transported to a heat exchanger, where it can be then be used to supply heat to [physical] buildings."

The Liebniz Centre hoped to use the heat in its campus buildings in winter.

IBM's tested the use of warm water up to 60 degrees Celsius in pilot tests two years ago. The water emerged from the supercomputer at a temperature of up to 65 degrees.

"The high input temperature of the coolant results in an even higher-grade heat at the output," IBM noted.