Immersion Comparison

How does immersion cooling compare to air cooling and water cooling?

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E3 NV has experience with air-cooled data centers, air-cooled modular data centers, several direct-chip-technologies, single-phase immersion, and most recently two-phase immersion. The info below is based on our real-world experience and the experiences of our customers.

Air Cooling

Pros:

  • Extremely well understood and quantified

  • No additional cost

  • Current OEM systems are designed for air cooling

  • Equipment is easy to service

  • No plumbing

  • Good scaling from small to large

Cons:

  • Extremely Noisy

  • Requires more frequent maintenance

  • Low density – higher cost for servers (per core)

  • Inefficient – Fans waste 25% of IT power on typical servers

  • Large footprint

  • More networking equipment

Single-Phase Immersion

Pros:

  • Already well understood

  • Simple control systems

  • Up to 75% reduction in cooling power

  • Engineered fluids are less expensive than two-phase

  • Very high material compatibility

Cons:

  • Equipment is covered in fluid when removed

  • Not as efficient as two-phase

  • Plumbing can get complex quickly

  • Does not scale well to multi-megawatt sizes

  • Requires larger, more expensive cooling coils

Two-Phase Immersion

Pros:

  • High build quality by necessity

  • Up to 98% reduction in cooling power

  • Long life fluid (20 years)

  • High cooling capacity (4kw per liter)

  • Equipment is dry and clean when removed

  • Fairly simple plumbing

  • Excellent scaling

Cons:

  • Not ideal at small scales

  • Control costs are the same for 250kW and 10kW

  • Controls are complex and expensive

  • Cannot use HDDs

  • Tanks must be stainless

  • Fluids leak easily so quality control must be tightly adhered to

Direct to Chip Fluid Cooling

Pros:

  • Well understood

  • Up to 60% reduction in cooling cost

  • Almost all servers can be modified

  • Easy road to higher density

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Cons:

  • Still have fans

  • Large footprint for plumbing and chillers

  • Awful scaling – Infrastructure size grows faster with higher densities

  • Greatly increased maintenance costs

  • High additional cost