Growth of the IT industry over the past 25 years
Many things have changed over the last quarter century. Much progress has been made, not only at political and social level, but also and especially in the business and IT sector. Systems, devices and processes are becoming increasingly interconnected. The dissemination of social media as we see it happening now would have been unimaginable 25 years ago. Social media and the constant availability of IT services such as the World Wide Web are the main factors having a direct impact on our social life today. Before these advances, the impact of IT on the workplace was limited in business terms as mobile internet connections were the exception, were very expensive and had a low transmission bandwidth.
The development and deployment processes for business applications are changing
However, along with the digital transformation and the noticeably increased significance of ICT for companies, IT requirements have changed dramatically. Artificial Intelligence (AI) already enriches our daily lives, for example, image and speech recognition. AI is essentially based on the calculation of probabilities and the recognition of patterns. In the industrial environment, potential users have already recognized that AI algorithms offer promising opportunities. But AI can also help to gain new insights into the development and spread of diseases, helping us to recognize them more quickly and to tailor their treatment. Furthermore, AI-based applications can help citizens to make their investment and consumption decisions and contributes to climate and environmental protection.
Nowadays the most common way to cool the IT equipment is still air conditioning
These AI application examples are about interpreting data, finding correlations and drawing direct conclusions. However, in order to actually use AI, users need ever more performant IT systems, often equipped with appropriate accelerator chips such as GPUs. At the same time, however, high-speed processing results in an enormous rise in the heat generated by servers, and consequently, ever greater amounts of energy and space are required for cooling. However, air conditioning is still the most commonly used cooling system for IT equipment – even though this method is not the most efficient.
The road to the next generation of efficient and ultra-dense systems
In some scenarios, air conditioning already fails to facilitate the exploitation of the full capabilities of an IT system. According to market research institutions, the Global Data Center Liquid Cooling Market was worth $0.82 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach $4.55 billion by 2023, expanding at a CAGR of 27.7% during the forecast period.
Fujitsu recognized this trend in the market some time ago and has developed technologies to increase the efficiency of both performance and cooling – the FUJITSU Liquid Immersion Cooling System.
This is a closed-bath, single-phase cooling system that immerses entire IT devices in a non-conductive heat transfer fluid and circulates the inert fluid from the bath through a coolant distribution unit. The heat generated by the electronic components is directly and efficiently transferred to the fluid, reducing the need for active cooling components such as heat sinks and fans that are common in air cooling.
You may have heard some rumors or myths about liquid cooling and immersion cooling that made you unsure about this new technology, for example, that the installation and maintenance of these systems is extremely difficult and time consuming, or that standard x86 servers cannot be used.
In reality, however, the FUJITSU Liquid Immersion Cooling System offers numerous advantages:
- Significantly reduced power consumption and installation space: By eliminating the need for cooling fans within each server and air conditioning equipment for the server room, this system can be expected to reduce power consumption by approximately 40% compared with conventional systems. It also facilitates around double the server density in the same installation space, contributing to reductions in the total cost of ownership (TCO).
- Highly tolerant of various installation environments: Servers are directly immersed in non-conductive fluid, hence they are not in contact with the surrounding environment. For this reason, the system can be installed practically anywhere, as it is not necessary to consider air quality issues that need to be taken into account when conventional servers are used. Consequently it can be installed in a variety of environments that were unsuitable for conventional server types, such as high temperatures, high humidity regions, manufacturing sites with oily or dusty air, or in coastal areas where there are concerns about salt damage.
- Easy installation and maintenance: The installation of the system is very simple. The plumbing for the liquid cooling is connected easily to existing site cooling systems. Maintenance of the system is straightforward as the fluid used as a cooling medium is also non-combustible, not harmful to humans and does not need to be regularly replaced as its quality does not deteriorate.
- Extremely low noise: Server cooling fans and air conditioning equipment are unnecessary, making it possible to build a noise-free server room environment. The good news is that standard PRIMERGY servers can be used without physical modification, like air-cooled systems.
Highly efficient cooling technology significantly cuts power space requirements
The FUJITSU Liquid Immersion Cooling System can help businesses to fully exploit the opportunities and capabilities offered by new AI technologies and to transform our lives, much like the World Wide Web or the emerging social media hype did some 20 years ago. There are now some initial customers running this new infrastructure and it has already been adopted for a cluster configuration at the Supercomputing Facility for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the IIT Dehli, where it has been well-received for having reduced operating costs through its low power consumption. Its ability to operate at low noise levels also meant it could be installed near laboratories, whilst the system’s highly efficient cooling provided users with sustained high computational performance.
In addition, the Liquid Immersion Cooling System recently won the Environment Minister’s Award for Global Warming Prevention Activity. This award recognizes the contribution made by the infrastructure to the overall reduction of server system power consumption and CO2 emissions.