Liquid cooling makes high density storage more reliable, study shows

Liquid cooling hard drives results in lower power consumption, less unwanted vibration, and more efficient heat transfer in comparison to air cooled solutions. In the future, this will allow server infrastructures to cool more densely packed storage servers. A trend that is continuously growing as internet usage balloons.

Precision immersion cooling manufacturer Iceotope conducted a study with Meta (a.k.a. Facebook) to test the effectiveness of cooling high-density hard drives in a server environment. The study shows that liquid cooling is more effective than air cooling, resulting in better hard drive reliability and virtually silent operation.

Iceotope says the amount of data every person consumes on the internet is expected to explode over the next several years. Thus the study was carried out to see if liquid cooling could serve as a viable upgrade for cooling large quantities of hard drives and storage servers to meet increasing demands in internet data consumption. According to study’s data, each person is expected to generate a whopping 463 exabytes of data each day by 2025, through the use of AI, video streaming, and using the internet for other tasks.

As a result, hyperscale infrastructures are expected to increase in power consumption, as storage capacity climbs to meet demand. This will inevitably require more cooling to keep temperatures in check. However, what truly enabled Iceotope to study liquid cooling, is the transition to helium filled hard drives that are air-tight against liquid.

Iceotope used a single-phase immersion cooling system to cool the test system, comprised of two single socket nodes, two expander cards, a NIC, and a power distribution board in a 4OU form factor, featuring 72 helium filled hard drives. This involves submerging the server in a special non-electrically conductive liquid, that is designed to extract heat from the server.

With this cooling system, the study saw several improvements to the server’s performance, including a reduced temperature variance of just 3C between all 72 hard drives regardless of each drive’s location inside the server chassis, and lower power consumption for the cooling system. Moreover, the server was able to operate virtually silently, reducing acoustical vibrations. This should result in better reliability from the hard drives, since unwanted vibrations can put extra strain on a drive’s moving parts.

Iceotope did not mention when its liquid cooled servers will come to market, but with the test proving to be a success, we wouldn’t be surprised to see single phase immersion cooling becoming a popular cooling solution over the next several years.