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IBM Hydro Cluster Water Cooling  (Source: IBM)
IBM Power 575 performs at 600 GFlops per node

Computer enthusiasts that overclock their CPUs have known for a long time that liquid cooling has the potential to cool the processor better than air cooling. Liquid cooling in the enthusiast space is common and has even given way in the extreme performance categories to much more exotic means of cooling processors.

In the supercomputer realm companies like IBM have traditionally relied on air cooling for the CPUs via air conditioning for the room the supercomputer is in. IBM introduced its latest supercomputer called the Power 575, which is equipped with IBM’s latest Power6 microprocessor. The Power 575 has moved from air cooling to liquid cooling and thanks to the liquid cooling useing water-chilled copper plates located above each processor, the new supercomputer requires 80% fewer air conditioning units.

The significantly reduced need for air conditioning means that the energy needed to cool the data center can be reduced by 40%. IBM researchers say water can be up to 4,000 times more efficient than air cooling for computer systems.

The Power 575 supercomputer has 448 cores per rack and provides over five times the performance of its predecessor and is three times more energy efficient per rack. Each rack features 14 2U nodes each consisting of 32 4.7GHz cores of Power6 and 3.5TB of memory. Each node is capable of 600 GFlops and is three times more efficient in GFlops per kilowatt than the Power5 air-cooled processors.

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RE: The water of life.
By DeepBlue1975 on 4/9/2008 4:01:15 PM , Rating: 3
All home PCs were fanless before the 486. Even "heatsinkless".

Since the fastests 486s we have only been seeing larger and larger and more expensive HSF combos, to the point that every boxed processor comes with one and in each new generation, the stock HSF has a more intricate design than the previous one to cope with the high heat dissipation density. That is, Watts dissipated per area unit, which is a number that continues to increase as the die areas of CPUs continue to shrink, in spite of actual TDP numbers being able to decrease sometimes.

You can have a fanless PC now, but you will certainly need a really huge heatsink ala Scythe Orochi, plus some fans on your system case to keep your run of the mill C2D within acceptable temperatures, while putting more than 1 kilogram of copper and aluminuum on top of it.

I rather tend to think that the ramification between desktop and mobile parts will widen, becoming a more specialized branch than it is today (most of the time a derivative of desktop CPUs) and we will have very low consumption and heat dissipation notebooks on one side, though not incredibly powerful, and very powerful desktop computers on the other, which will still require active cooling.

I think that powerful sillicon based CPUs will never again be cool enough to be able to operate in a completely fanless desing.

But I think in the future the choice will be yours to make: powerful and noisy requiring big HSFs, or "powerful enough" and silent, not requiring the use of any kind of fancy HSF on top.

Nevertheless I think that nanomaterials can give quite a spin to actual heatsinks if that branch is researched and funded throughly enough.

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