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October 2014, Volume 3, Issue 9

Liquid immersion cooling surfaces in the server market

Liquid immersion cooling is still a very cutting-edge technology practice, but its possibilities are enticing. Liquid cools servers more efficiently than air does, and could keep up with ever-increasing data center density. The "liquid" of liquid cooling is mineral oil or an engineered fluid, rather than water, which can be corrosive and dangerous.

Data center designers will have to look closely at all the aspects of liquid immersion cooling. Server racks using liquid cooling need to be mounted horizontally, rather than vertically as they are now. There's also the challenge of cleanup and maintenance for liquid-cooled servers -- much messier than current servers. And data center operators would have to carefully consider whether to retrofit older servers for immersion baths, as well as whether cabling could withstand liquid.

Liquid immersion cooling adoption is slow at the moment, but that could change as data center density reaches its current limit with air-cooled systems.

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