Microsoft began submerging its servers in liquid to improve their performance and energy efficiency, and servers are now used for production loads in what resembles a liquid tank.
This immersion process has been in the industry for a few years now, but Microsoft is explaining that it is the first cloud provider to operate two-stage immersion cooling in a production environment.
The cooling works by completely submerging the server in a non-conductive fluorocarbon-based liquid that directly collides with the components and reaches a lower boiling point (50 ° C) for condensation.
This creates a closed loop cooling system, which reduces costs, given that no energy is required to move the liquid around the tank, and a coolant is not required for the condenser either.
AndClarify Microsoft: The server is submerged in the tank, and you see it boiling just as you see the water boiling in the pot, but the boiling point of water is 100 degrees Celsius, while the boiling point of this liquid is 50 degrees Celsius.
And companies used cryptocurrency This kind of liquid cooling in recent years to mine Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
This method has inspired Microsoft to experiment with using it over the past few years, using it to test the high demand for the cloud and the workload of applications such as machine learning.
Currently, most data centers are cooled using outdoor air, which is cooled by lowering its temperature to temperatures below 35 ° C using evaporation.
This technique is known as immersion cooling, but it uses a lot of water The new liquid tank technology is designed to reduce water usage.
Microsoft said: This method will likely eliminate the need for water consumption in data centers, which is important to us.
This server rack also allows Microsoft to bundle hardware together more tightly, which reduces the amount of space required in the long run compared to conventional air cooling.
The company is tentatively piloting this method with a small in-house production workload, with plans to use it on a larger scale in the future.
Microsoft is studying the reliability implications of this new cooling, and said: We expect much better reliability, and our work with Project Natick a few years ago demonstrated the importance of removing moisture and oxygen from the environment.
Project Natick saw Microsoft flooded an entire data center – 864 servers and 27.6 petabytes of storage – on the Scottish sea floor. The experiment was successful.
Microsoft expects similar results from the new immersion technology Because liquid replaces oxygen and moisture, both cause corrosion, which in turn causes systems to fail.
Part of this work also links to Microsoft’s environmental pledge to tackle water scarcity, as the company has committed to replenishing more water than it uses for its global operations by 2030.
This includes Microsoft’s use of the on-site rainwater harvesting system and the collection of condensate from air conditioners to water plants.
However, Microsoft withdrew nearly 8 million cubic meters of water from municipal systems and other local sources in 2019, compared to just over 7 million in 2018.