The scientists who are testing a new liquid cooled computer system in Leeds think it has the potential to save large amounts of energy and prevent heat being unnecessarily wasted. Large fans to cool the world's data centres could become a thing of the past. Here are some facts and figures:
- The world's data centres use 31 gigawatts of power, more than 7 times the capacity of Drax power station.
- Data centre carbon emissions are predicted to quadruple between 2008 and 2020.
- The new Iceotope system uses just 80 watts of power to harvest heat from 20 kilowatts of computer use.
– Dr Jon Summers, University of Leeds.
The liquid we are using is extraordinary stuff. You could throw your mobile phone in a tub of it and the phone's electronics would work perfectly. But the important thing for the future of computing and the internet is that it is more than 1000 times more effective at carrying heat than air. The cooling of servers is traditionally done using fans and air conditioning units, but air is a great insulator. We use it in double glazing. Why would you use it to cool a server?