4 min read

Data Center Sustainability: How to Save the Planet

Data Center Sustainability: How to Save the Planet

Data Center Sustainability: How Two-Phase Direct-to-Chip Liquid Cooling Can Save the Planet

According to the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, data centers could draw up to 21 percent of the world’s electricity supply by 2030. This rapid increase is not just because nearly all internet traffic travels through data centers, but also because of the processing power needed to handle the workloads from exciting new generative AI applications such as ChatGPT. This is creating a huge challenge for the entire supply chain – from the hyperscalers down to the semiconductor and server suppliers – and all eyes are on their ability to become more sustainable while also meeting this explosive growth.

Data Center Chip Cooling Accounts for 40% of Overall Energy Usage

If you look closely at where the energy is being consumed, it may surprise you that cooling the chips inside the data center can account for 40 percent of its overall energy usage. Looking at that startling statistic, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that data center chip cooling is an area that could make one of the most significant impacts on data center sustainability in the long term. That is – as long as we don’t introduce cooling techniques that bring even worse sustainability problems. A perfect example is water-based cooling solutions, clearly, a better approach to cooling hot CPUs and GPUs is needed, and it should advance sustainability, not set us back. It also should not introduce a new level of risk and failure (did someone say water leakage on my $200K server?)

The majority of data centers are still cooling their servers and chips with air-based cooling. This traditional approach is one of the oldest tools in the toolbox, and if it weren’t for AI and HPC applications, this method of cooling probably could have continued for quite some time. However, as the heat output of chips continued to increase with every generation, data centers started running out of room to put the cooling equipment and are consuming larger and larger amounts of energy to cool it.

The Modern Approach to Cooling Data Center Chips – Waterless, Two-Phase Direct-to-Chip

As air-based chip cooling approaches hit the wall, companies started turning to direct-to-chip liquid cooling strategies. This was a smart move because liquid is a much more effective heat transfer medium than air. However, hyper scalers don’t want water in their facilities due to the risk of leakage and the high maintenance it requires. This has opened the door to waterless, two-phase direct-to-chip solutions such as ZutaCore’s HyperCool®. This direct-to-chip cooling solution provides unprecedented benefits to high-performance computing workloads, server densification, and data center sustainability. Unlike conventional cooling techniques, this technology was built to handle today’s modern cloud, AI, and HPC workloads. This is not a chip cooling technology designed 20 years ago trying to patch a problem we have today. 

Below are just a few of the ways that direct-to-chip liquid cooling can help data centers find the road that leads to sustainability.

  1. Space and construction reduction – As a self-contained and self-regulating system, HyperCool triples the processing capacity of highly dense computing environments using less than 50 percent of the energy and half the space of conventional cooling systems. This technology transforms the data center landscape by allowing operators to significantly upgrade their existing infrastructure with little to no modifications to current real estate, power, or cooling systems,
  2. Extended server lifetime– Server manufacturing, transportation and dismantling have a high sustainable cost and environmental impact. Maximizing processor power can reduce the number of servers needed to a minimum. Moreover, extending the server lifetime will reduce the number of servers manufactured yearly and, as a result, will reduce sustainability costs per year. Two-phase, direct-to-chip liquid cooling supports the highest-performing processors available and increases server lifetime and the server's components' mean time between failures (MTBF). This results in less servers needed for the same computing power with a longer lifetime than other solutions available today.
  3. Cooling power consumption reduction– The power consumption of the data center is considered a major contributor to the sustainability cost. The power consumption is divided between computing (IT) and cooling. When cooled by standard air cooling, the cooling power consumption in data centers can equal to the IT power consumption. HyperCool cooling reduces cooling power by 80%, while being able to cool the most powerful processors of 1,500 watts or more.
  4. Heat reuse option– For efficient heat reuse, the facility water outlet temperature needs to be relatively high and stable. When using air-based cooling, the data center will need to invest energy to elevate the facility water outlet temperature, making the heat reuse not worthwhile, both economically and energy-wise. Two phase Direct-to-chip liquid cooling enables high facility water outlet temperature, without the need for any additional energy investment, turning heat reuse implementation into a very efficient and cost-effective advantage.
  5. High Global Warming Potential (GWP) – With any liquid cooling technology, the liquid used needs to have a very low to no-toxicity rating and be nonflammable and stable. It also needs to have zero Ozon Depletion (ODP) and very low GWP, with the characteristics of braking down fast into environmentally safe components. The liquids used in HyperCool (HFO-1336mzz-Z and R-1233zd) have ODP of 0 and GWP of 2 non-toxic and non-flammable with very low TFA yield, which is ideal for data center use. The system’s closed loop cold-plate has no loss of liquid to the atmosphere compared to immersion cooling that loses ~10% (tens of liter per rack) per year. This provides data centers with a much more environmentally friendly solution that can replace and reduce the use of high GWP refrigerants used by air conditioning units to cool data centers today. 

Net Zero Emissions by 2030

At ZutaCore, we are committed to making net zero emissions a reality by developing innovative liquid cooling solutions for the data industry. Reducing energy, water, and land usage, as well as emphasizing recyclability and using sustainable materials, is a critical component to achieving net zero emissions goals, and this is now possible through advancements in two-phase direct-to-chip liquid cooling technology.  Download our eBook to learn how HyperCool® can help save the planet.

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