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Microsoft Is Sinking Entire Data Centres In Liquid To Save On Energy


…Microsoft’s submerged servers depict a typical bathtub.

The modernized technology to bolster server performance with minimum energy usage — an entire rack of Microsoft server was sunk out of sight in a liquid-like bath to bolster the tech company’s production services.

Microsoft claims to be the pioneer of utilizing “two-phase immersion cooling in a production unit” as a cloud-based tech provider. Meanwhile, the submerging process has been utilized by several other tech companies overtime in tech history.

The process of immersing servers works by dipping the entire server in the non-conductive fluid — the elements comprised of the liquid are not mere water. The immersion techniques aim at extracting the supposed heat while the fluorocarbon-based liquid helps the components to attain a boiling point of “50 degrees Celsius.”

Microsoft liquid server cooling technology presents an automated means of moving the fluorocarbon-based liquid around its tank while cooling the server concurrently. A manual cooling system would use a condenser to reduce the heat, while a different type of technology moves the liquid nonstop.

Microsoft’s vice president of data centre advanced development group, Christian Belady highlighted their intent to minimize the cost of running a submerged server for production. The entire server rack lies inside the “bathtub, and what you’ll see is boiling just like you’d see boiling in your pot. The boiling in your pot is at 100 degrees Celsius, and in this case, it’s at 50 degrees Celsius.”

Other users such as crypto miners have utilized these fluorocarbon-based liquids sever cooler to mine cryptocurrencies in past years. The tech company discovered the competence of these liquid coolers a few years ago and had to further the advance of this cooling tool.

This fluorocarbon-based liquid cooler protects the server from applications like machine learning that require intensive workload to function. It also protects against cloud damage in line with Microsoft discoveries.

They noted the cooling system is also efficient in managing environmental space, whereby the necessary hardware is easily compiled as a single unit instead of using multiple technologies for different purposes. Christian Belady said the server submerging will fully develop in the nearest future — “It’s in a small data centre, and we’re looking at one rack’s worth. We have a whole phased approach, and our next phase is pretty soon with multiple racks.”

However, other data centres use a swamp cooling system — this requires a lot of water and an extra air cooler, evaporating the whole thing while the temperature is below 35 degrees Celsius. Microsoft’s liquid cooler “eliminates the need for water consumption in their data centres, so that’s a really important thing for us. It’s all about driving less and lower impact for wherever we land,” Christian Belady added.

According to Belady’s words, Microsoft seems to have mastered and handled this submerged technology perfectly after several failed attempts. During its Natick project, the tech company sank a whole data centre in-depth of the Scottish sea. 864 servers and 27.6 petabytes of storage were connected to these submerged servers.

Belady noted “We expect much better reliability. Our work with the Project Natick program a few years back demonstrated the importance of eliminating humidity and oxygen from an environment.

Microsoft submerged technology could tackle water scarcity in the future. The tech company has devised better means to utilize water whereby an on-site water collection in its offices which could either be rainwater, or air-conditioners. Overtime Microsoft has accumulated roughly 28 million cubic meters of water from local sources.

Although, Microsoft appears to consume an enormous amount of water — still, Belady noted that it might be challenging to minimize water usage in its line of cooling systems. The metrics they devised are the tools they intend to attain “zero water usage” moving from sea floors to flooding servers.

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