There are many innovations from different companies that promise to change the landscape of data center cooling, from using sea or rainwater to reduce precious natural resource usage, to leveraging AI to analyse how data centres are performing and adjusting cooling accordingly in real-time, to cooling robots that can monitor the temperature and humidity of the servers in the rack.
One technology that is garnering interest from data centre operators is immersion cooling. This technology involves a large bath of dielectric fluid submerging the full hardware into the leak-proof bath. The fluid absorbs the heat, and in some cases turns to vapor, cools or condenses, and returns as fluid to the cooling bath.
One company developing this technology is Netherlands’-based, Asperitas. Their system utilises features cooling of the hardware utilising an optimised liquid developed by Shell. The completely closed solution can be directly applied to existing datacentres.
The technology also makes it possible for energy-intensive (future) hardware of chip manufacturers to continue to function at the highest possible utilisation rate. The latter makes the technology interesting for users of high-performance computing systems. A unique aspect of Asperitas’ solution is its ability to offer hot water-cooling, which makes it possible to cool datacentres, even in warm areas. The solution converts all electricity used for the hardware into a usable energy form: warm water of at least 55 degrees Celsius. This would allow datacentres to transform into suppliers of residual heat on a large scale, catering to the needs of many European regions where many datacentres are housed.
Asperitas already works with several high-profile partners and clients including Dell Technologies, Supermicro, Shell, and maincubes and have recently supported the datacentre scale up of the Chartres site for French corporate financial institution, Crédit Agricole. The Asperitas technology, based on immersion liquid cooling, will enable the bank’s datacentres to significantly reduce their energy costs and environmental footprint while preparing for a near future with more compute driven applications and where high-density solutions are required.
In 2018, a pilot project with Asperitas Immersed Computing was installed for Credit Agricole, during which the technology was validated and met all their Tier 4 datacentre and enterprise standards, therefore being qualified to adopt at their core datacentres. The pilot project at the Greenfield datacentre, the largest within Crédit Agricole, managed more than 40 per cent of the bank workload in Chartres. The module was exposed to numerous weather fluctuations and performed exceptionally, demonstrated by the energy efficiency indicator PUE improving from 1.4 to 1.03 in the winter and 1.04 during a heat wave. Based on this success, the next step of the project is to now install multiple modules in two datacentres, taking up a potential 150 square meters of floor space, versus the 6000 square meters of white space currently.
“I am delighted that Crédit Agricole, a leading global enterprise with high requirements for their infrastructure, has chosen Asperitas to support their datacentre scale-up,” Rolf Brink, Asperitas CEO said. “The flexibility and simplicity of the AIC24 modules make it a highly scalable solution, without having to change the environmental infrastructure, so this outcome enables Crédit Agricole’s next step in development to be quite straight-forward. Having multiple AIC24 modules in the France site will make a huge impact on their datacentre performance, efficiency and sustainability, proving them to be a true ambassador of immersion cooling.”
The AIC24 solution will meet the demand for high density compute on a system and server level for Crédit Agricole. The system makes use of the natural convection driven fluid circulation within. This approach enables immersion cooling to be both climate independent (free cooling up to 48 degrees Celsius) and fully heat reuse ready (more than 98 per cent energy transformed into hot water). Making use of the Shell Immersion Cooling Fluid product, produced by the gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology from development partner Shell, the solution allows for efficient cooling regardless of the datacentre’s external environment.
“We are very excited with this success,” Sundeep Kamath, global marketing manager for process oils at Shell added. “We are committed to working with our partners and customers to develop solutions that can help them decarbonise. Datacentres today consume about one per cent of global energy demand and this is only expected to grow with exponential amounts of data being generated. This solution offers the best of all worlds – increased compute performance, lower costs, and a lower CO2 footprint. Shell is deploying this technology for our own high-performance computing and we are happy to see a leading bank like Crédit Agricole has also chosen this innovative, award winning solution.”
According to Jean Buet, senior officer, head of datacentres, Crédit Agricole the immersion cooling solution provided allows it to increase the density of its datacentre without major work. “We can thus offer our customer a high thermal density solution that meets both their growing demand and the new technological challenges that appear with the new generation of IT equipment,” he added. “After two years of observation in production, we decided to deploy this solution.”
The multiple module installation is scheduled for before the end of 2020, with Asperitas working alongside Dell Technologies to provide integrated compute solutions.