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IBM iDataPlex  (Source: IBM)
IBM says new blade server can be run at room temperature with liquid cooling

The move towards "greener" pastures in the IT industry is heavily advocated by IBM. Not only do green initiatives in the data center help the environment but the reduced power needs can also save corporations significant sums of money.

IBM introduced a new category of server for Web 2.0 computing today called the iDataPlex system. IBM says that companies running scale-out data centers consume as much as 10 to 30 times more energy costs per square foot than similar office buildings not running a data center. The additional energy used by the companies is not only for running the computers, but also for running the air conditioning system required to keep the data center running.

The new iDataPlex system uses IBM’s blade server system in a new design that IBM claims more than doubles the number of systems that can be run in a single IBM rack. The new server also uses 40% less power while providing five times as much computing power. The server also uses all industry standard components and open source software to cut costs.

The iDataPlex can also be fitted with a liquid cooled wall on the rear of the rack to allow it to operate at room temperature. IBM also introduced liquid cooling in its supercomputer line recently with the launch of the Power 575. The new iDataPlex will be available in June in the U.S. and Canada with a global launch by the end of 2008.

IBM Financial announced at the same time that it would be offering financing to help customers put the new iDataPlex servers in use in their data centers. John Callies, general manager of IBM Global Financing said in a statement, “IBM Global Financing offers an end-to-end solution for customers looking to access the new IBM iDataplex technology. From acquisition to disposal, IBM Global Financing can be there to help Web 2.0 customers and other segments with high performance environments access these benefits.”

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I'd like to see...
By Souka on 4/23/2008 3:36:34 PM , Rating: 5
Total power requirements of liquid cooling vs. air cooling with IDENTICAL systems/hardware.

end-to-end power the %40 power savings just because the server room won't ne to cold anymore? If so, what about the liquid solution....I can only assume the coolant is refridgerated....which = AC

RE: I'd like to see...
By ZaethDekar on 4/23/2008 3:40:04 PM , Rating: 2
Thats where they run it through the buildings piping and it is used as the boiler...

RE: I'd like to see...
By Phil Harris on 4/23/2008 4:27:00 PM , Rating: 4
If I want to keep my CPU temperature at 45c under load I have two options.
I can air cool it and run A/C to keep the room at 16c which consumes about 2.5kw, or run a 5w pump and three 1w fans on my water cooling.
Seems like a simple choice to me. Direct cooling at the source of the heat has got to be more efficient than cooling an entire room.

RE: I'd like to see...
By SectionEight on 4/23/2008 5:32:39 PM , Rating: 3
I can only assume the coolant is refridgerated....which = AC

Yes, but it'll take far less energy to keep that small loop of coolant at the proper temperature than an entire room's air supply. Recirculating the air can cause problems (sick building syndrome) but bringing in outside air takes more energy. Liquid cooling resolves both of those problems.

RE: I'd like to see...
By Carter642 on 4/23/2008 7:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, a little thermodynamics here. No matter what the cooling medium the energy being dissipated per processor is going to be the same. This means that in a closed room (system) the total amount of heat energy being added to the room is the same no matter how you cool it. i.e your room with a watercooled pc will warm up just as fast as with an aircooled pc.

The point of water cooling is heat transfer efficiency, specifically it's far more efficient than air. In a datacenter the point is to pump heat out of the room and to a lesser extent pump in cooled air. This is why there are hot/cold aisles and underfloor ducts and positive pressure systems all pumping air around the data center. Basically rather than having all your heat floating about in the air water cooling allows you to package it all up into the water in a neat little pipe and then send it wherever you want.

Of course the heat has to go somewhere whether it be through water/water heat exchangers or water/air radiators. The savings is in packaging the removal system, rather than dozens of AC units the size of vans cooling a wharehouse sized datacenter room you can have a couple of pumps for the heat exchanger.

RE: I'd like to see...
By rebturtle on 4/24/2008 2:14:34 AM , Rating: 2
No matter what the cooling medium the energy being dissipated per processor is going to be the same.

Yes and no. By cooling the hardware more efficiently, there is less heat buildup at the hardware and components. Heat, as we know, builds resistance, which lowers efficiency. The cooler you can keep your processors, the less energy they will consume. Additionally, watercooling transfers the heat from the processor out of the case and away from other components, which also benefit from lower ambient temperatures.

So yes, the energy dissipated in terms of heat must be removed from the room either way. However by making the entire model more efficient, you lower the total heat generated (and lower the total energy consumed) and require less ambient cooling. By lowering the required cooling, you can remove the 3 electrical requirements in phase change (A/C) cooling, the pump, the condenser fan and the evaporator fan. This can range from a constant load of around 10A @ 220V (2200 Watts), to upwards of 50A @ 208V (over 10,000 Watts!) per unit.

These are small initial changes with cascading beneficial effects.

RE: I'd like to see...
By Samus on 4/24/2008 4:09:21 AM , Rating: 2
what rebturtle said,

the room has so much more volume that casual cooling of it will dissipate the heat produced by the blade's refrigerant systems. it's still overall cheaper than cooling the whole room, which involved an insane HVAC system.

RE: I'd like to see...
By ncheese on 4/24/2008 2:12:49 PM , Rating: 2
One thing to add. For those used to industrial processes and cooling (ie. more mechanical engineers), one beauty of water cooling is you can use a cooling tower, which can cool water via direct heat transfer (ambient air cooling water) AND water evaporation. This is basically how the human body cools itself. Large industrial plants can thus reject a tremendous amount of heat without resorting to a compressor/freon based cooling, thus saving a significant amount of money.

In theory, if IBM implements such a strategy (allowing direct water cooling of each processor), a large data center can potentially connect all the water together (manifold at inlet and outlet, thus each blade server is in parallel), and use a cooling tower as the only heat rejection point. The only power use is in recirculating the water, and replacing the evaporated water. This is a significant energy saving than using a compresson/freon refrigerating technique. It should be very intersting to see.

RE: I'd like to see...
By KillerNoodle on 5/1/2008 2:34:11 PM , Rating: 2
And the next greatest source of water usage will become our computers/data centers...Not a good solution especially when many countries are short on drinking water.

RE: I'd like to see...
By Calin on 4/24/2008 7:04:35 AM , Rating: 2
The systems in datacenters and racks lack the general capacity of cooling the desktop computers offer - as they use smaller heat sinks with smaller fans (two Tuniq Tower 120 have maybe half the internal volume of a 1U dual proc rack-mountable computer, leaving you with little space for the rest of the components). As such, to keep the components at normal operating temperature, you need to feed them cold air.
On the other hand, a water block with its piping use less volume than the heat sink of a modern processor, and does not need cold air. It also moves the heat outside, helping cooling the other components.
So, you can dissipate the same heat (as total heat is the energy consumption) from a higher base temperature - which means your A/C units have a better efficiency (the efficiency decreases when the temperature differential decreases)

RE: I'd like to see...
By KillerNoodle on 5/1/2008 3:53:59 PM , Rating: 2
can only assume the coolant is refridgerated....which = AC

From what the article says:
The iDataPlex can also be fitted with a liquid cooled wall on the rear of the rack to allow it to operate at room temperature.

To me this means that the "Radiator" will be this back wall and the rack of servers will be an easy swap-out for any existing systems since they do not need plumbing to be installed or a central pump.

The article doesn't say what exactly is going to be liquid cooled. Meaning that if it is just the CPU then there still needs to be a good amount of fans to cool other parts.

There claims to be no additional cooling needed (1). (IE you could put this in your home.) But this seams ridiculous since it is a heat source. What they might be trying for is that you don't need a specialized cooling solution for it.

The main characteristic that this server will exhibit is increased surface area. The on chip Heat Spreader Xeon7300series is 0.0016m^2. And X system chassis has max 32 sockets so that makes for a total of 0.0512m^2 with just processors with out heat sinks. The back wall lets say would be 48 (1.2192m) inches wide and 72 (1.8288m) inches tall. This would make the total surface area for heat transfer of the system a whopping 4.458m^2 for both sides of the wall. There will still be fans needed for keeping other parts cool but the shear size of this panel is how the system is able to maintain a room temp.

There will also be a benefit of using water due to its very high specific heat. So the volume of water used will also be important but they don't tell you the amount this baby would hold.


IBM Lawn Care
By isorfir on 4/23/2008 4:07:57 PM , Rating: 3
The move towards "greener" pastures in the IT industry is heavily advocated by IBM

By "green" they're literally talking about their lawn, which they'll be watering with the leaks in the cooling system from these servers.

RE: IBM Lawn Care
By nineball9 on 4/23/2008 10:07:40 PM , Rating: 2
IBM has been making water-cooled mainframes for years. They do not leak.

RE: IBM Lawn Care
By Parhel on 4/24/2008 5:56:42 PM , Rating: 2
My dad is an old time IBM-er who started out repairing mainframes and midrange systems. A few years ago I asked for his help in assembling a watercooled system for my friend, and he told me the same thing. Reading the article, it sounds as if they are breaking new ground here.

My watercooled system was an enormous hassle to assemble and started to leak after about a year, by the way, and I'll never mix water and expensive electronics again . . . .

RE: IBM Lawn Care
By rebturtle on 4/24/2008 4:20:07 AM , Rating: 2
4 years of water in my system with no leaks. My only maintenance is to add about 2oz of distilled water every 6 months or so. Cooler, quieter and faster. More reliable than a HSF in some ways. I can lose my pump, or all 3 of my radiator fans and the system still won't go completely critical. Try that with a heatsink full of dust-bunnies.

Gee...aren't they wonderful
By KeithP on 4/23/2008 5:51:38 PM , Rating: 5
The move towards "greener" pastures in the IT industry is heavily advocated by IBM.

Of course, because to "go green" most companies will have to buy new server hardware and IBM wants to sell it to them.


RE: Gee...aren't they wonderful
By Drexial on 4/24/2008 11:01:39 AM , Rating: 2
Can you explain to me what in what business model a company doesn't want to sell its product? Why wouldn't they want to be the ones to provide more efficient servers if thats what their consumers want?

Hmmm I can get those server upgrades and save money on utilities... I just don't see where me as the consumer wins in this one.

If you are looking at this like more people look at fuel efficient cars where the mentality is "I need to buy this new car to replace my perfectly running car to save money on gas" then yes I can understand flawed logic. But I doubt any company would just upgrade because something new and shinny is out.

My company started running with Dell servers before I got here and we are no looking to make any new servers Blades. As far as the servers that exist, they will stay there till they are no longer a viable option. Either get phased out or they require an upgrade due to demand.

RE: Gee...aren't they wonderful
By Parhel on 4/24/2008 6:04:36 PM , Rating: 2
I don't have numbers, but with the energy requirements of an average data center and the rising costs of energy, I would imagine that there are real measurable advantages to staying as "green" as possible.

HP cClass blade
By AllYourBaseAreBelong2Us on 4/23/2008 4:26:28 PM , Rating: 2
Call me fanboy but, I still prefer the HP cClass Blade Servers.

RE: HP cClass blade
By klstay on 4/24/2008 10:44:48 AM , Rating: 2
GD Fanboy.

(Hey, you asked.)

apple anyone?
By nosfe on 4/24/2008 4:20:43 AM , Rating: 2
so will they get sued by apple for having an "i" at the front because its confusing apples customers thinking that its the next gen iPod?

RE: apple anyone?
By greylica on 4/24/2008 2:34:25 PM , Rating: 2
Worse for me, my name is Ivan, i-van... :)

By ZaethDekar on 4/23/2008 3:38:16 PM , Rating: 2
To see if I could somehow get my company to order one...

By black86capri50 on 4/23/2008 4:36:57 PM , Rating: 2
I seem to remember the drawer loaded rack mount modules of an A/N UYK-7 that was installed in my navy sub in 1981 were watercooled... and that only ran at 4mhz, and had 128k of ram spread across 164 circuit cards... and could be loaded off of punched paper tape. lol
whats worse, we unloaded the refrigerator sized bohemoths when we decommed the boat in 1998...

building savings too
By tastyratz on 4/24/2008 8:30:03 AM , Rating: 2
I would imagine that these may be kept in tighter spaces now vs the air cooled counterparts allowing for smaller server rooms and space savings as well.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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