A US-based startup company called Aquila is claiming that its system for cooling servers can save as much as 50 per cent on energy costs.
Aquila says its Aquarius “warm water-cooled computing solution” also improves the efficiency of servers to 95 per cent, while “drastically reducing operating costs”.
The company calls air cooling – which many data centres currently utilising to maintain the temperature of equipment at safe levels – is “yesterday’s news”, adding that “air-cooling is fast becoming unsustainable”.
The company says on its website: “Liquid cooling is the best solution for server heat removal because of its unmatched thermal performance. Liquid cooling done correctly is an efficient solution that allows successful heat removal from all critical components in modern-day computing with zero-noise pollution.”
As well as its claim that Aquarius water-cooling can save 50 per cent in energy costs against air-cooling systems, Aquila adds that Aquarius “offers 95 per cent or better cooling efficiency by eliminating the need for cooling fans and inefficient individual server power supplies and by cooling all server components over 2 W – not just the CPUs and RAM”.
Aquila developed the Aquarius system in partnership with Clustered Systems, whose CEO, Phil Hughes, tells the Albuquerque Journal: “We’ve come up with a new way of doing things. We think there will be a big market for it.”
Air versus water
The market for liquid cooling systems is growing, according to a variety of reports. But then the market for air cooling is probably growing as well.
There are probably at least some situations in which air cooling is necessary, but the general consensus seems to be that liquid cooling is preferable is most instances.
More and more newly constructed data centres are opting for water cooling. Some dig down to the water table and pump up the water under the ground to use for its cooling systems.
And if you’re Google, you go one step further and connect to the ocean and use sea water instead. And why not, if your gigantic, sprawling company straddles all the oceans on Google Earth? It’s more or less like a visit to the kitchen.
The issue of cooling and energy management at data centres is of critical importance as buying electricity is becoming more expensive.
Data centres in the US already use as much energy as around 10 million households, and that amount is set to increase exponentially.
As reported on Independent.co.uk, data centre expert Professor Ian Bitterlin says the amount of energy used by data centres is doubling every four years. “If we carry on going the way we have been it would become unsustainable – this level of data centre growth is not sustainable beyond the next 10 to 15 years. The question is, what are we going to do about it?” says Professor Bitterlin.
It’s unlikely that anyone will stop data centres being built, but what is very likely to happen is that they become much more energy-efficient, not because of any sense of responsibility towards the environment, but because power costs money, and making savings in this area would mean healthier profits for power-hungry data centre companies.