Hardcore Intros Liquid-Submerged Blade Servers

Hardcore Computer is preparing to introduce its patented total liquid submersion technology for blade servers as a way to cut data center power, cooling, and floor space costs.

Hardcore Computer’s Liquid Blade server platform consists of a low-cost blade server chassis which is filled with a proprietary dielectric liquid into which dual-socket server blades are submerged, said Chad Attlesey, CTO of the Rochester, Minn.-based system builder.

Those blades, which are powered by one or two Intel 5500 or 5600 Xeon series processors running on an Intel S5500HV reference motherboard, run at full power with all the heat drawn away by the liquid.

Hardcore’s technology is unlike the current liquid-cooled technology adopted in some servers and desktops which use water cooling on specific components, Attlesey said. In such systems, water can leak on the components and destroy a system or even cause a fire.

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’In the past, I had a $10,000 workstation with water cooling that spot-cooled certain components,’ he said. ’Once it got a crack in the cooling system and dripped water, causing the workstation to catch on fire. If I hadn’t gotten home in time, it might have burned my house.’

Hardcore prevents that problem by submerging the entire server blade in its liquid, which Attlesey said provides about 1,350 times the cooling capability of air.

Next: How The Technology Cuts Data Center Costs

That technology can cut data center costs in several ways.

First, because the liquid provides 100 percent heat rejection, the blade server chassis does not need any fans or air conditioning, and so the data center only needs enough air conditioning to keep its people comfortable. ’Customers can save 60 percent of their cooling costs, or the equivalent of 30 percent to 40 percent of their total power costs,’ he said. ’That’s pretty significant.’

And because liquid cooling is so efficient, there is no need for a lot of airflow space between blades, letting customers increase server density and reduce the server footprint. ’A lot of data centers are running out of space, so this can be a significant cost savings,’ he said.

Full liquid submersion of the server blades also increases reliability by keeping all the components cool, and not just the processor and graphics processor. ’Also, we’re not bringing water into the data center,’ he said. ’The dielectric liquid doesn’t conduct electricity, and so leaks are not an issue.’

Finally, because the servers are cooled by liquid and not by oxygen, there is less chance of a fire, he said.

Hardcore uses a UL-approved liquid which is biodegradable. It is also safe to drink, but Attlesey does not recommend doing so. ’It cleans you out like castor oil,’ he said.

The new blade server architecture is currently being demonstrated to customers, and is slated to be available for purchase in September, Attlesey said. He was unable to provide pricing, but said the total cost would be on parity with standard server blades because of the low-cost chassis, the lack of fans, and other benefits from the liquid cooling system.

Hardcore is looking to sell the blades direct and through channel partners, and is also looking to license the technology to OEMs, Attlesey said.