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 Water 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