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3M’s new cooling tech could cut data-center energy use 95 percent

3M began promoting a potentially innovative new cooling technology Tuesday that it said is designed for the “data center of the future.”

In partnership with Intel Corporation and SGI, Maplewood-based 3M pioneered what it describes as “revolutionary two-phase immersion cooling technology,” which it claims can increase supercomputer efficiency, reduce cooling energy costs by 95 percent, and reduce water consumption for data centers.

3M, Intel, and SGI developed a fully functional supercomputer in order to test the new cooling system. The SGI supercomputer, equipped with Intel’s processing hardware, was placed directly into 3M’s “Novec Engineered Fluid” in order to cool the supercomputer.

According to 3M, the new cooling technology makes large-scale data center hubs more cost-effective by requiring 10 times less space than conventional air cooling and eliminating “costly” air-cooling infrastructure and equipment.

In Twin Cities Business’ “Interview Issue,” 3M’s Chief Intellectual Property Counsel Kevin Rhodes described the company’s Novec fluids as one of its most impactful new technologies, with the potential to have as broad of an impact as 3M’s ubiquitous Post-its. Read the interview here

“It enables much tighter component packaging — allowing for greater computing power in less space — and easy access to hardware with no residue,” 3M said in a statement. “In fact, the system can enable up to 100 kilowatts of computing power per square meter.”

3M said advanced cooling technologies are more affordable and less complex to build and operate than traditional cooling methods. Additionally, the company said heat can be harvested from the system and reused for other heating or the desalination of seawater.

“We applaud [Intel and SGI] for their leadership in helping us find better ways to address energy efficiency, space constraints, and increased computing power in data centers,” Joe Koch, business director for 3M electronics markets materials division, said in a statement. “These advancements are a significant stepping stone in accelerating industry-wide collaboration to optimize computer hardware design.”

Twin Cities Business3M isn’t alone in developing immersion cooling techniques, however. Rochester’s own LiquidCool Solutions has raised around $20 million in order to implement its own electronic cooling equipment. Read more here.

Data center projects have been picking up steam in the Twin Cities recently. In October, CenturyLink said it was planning a new Shakopee data center project. At the time, some industry experts said the Twin Cities were “underserved” by modern data centers.

This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/12/2014 - 08:10 am.

    This Is Very Encouraging

    Considering the massive amount of space and power currently taken up data centers, any increases in efficiency of space and energy use will be very helpful.

  2. Submitted by Mike Downing on 04/12/2014 - 10:27 am.

    Conservatives reduce energy costs…

    I find it very ironic that a conservative company like 3M has a focus on reducing energy costs but liberal progressive policies are aimed at increasing energy costs to the poor and middle class.

    It is doubly ironic that a “Koch brother” is responsible for the effort to reduce the energy cost for the data center! 🙂

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/14/2014 - 02:13 pm.

      Couldn’t care less about the cost

      The concurrent reduction in energy usage ( you know, what’s responsible for the reduction in cost) is the important feature. With luck the energy barons will see dollars signs large enough to pull them away from their core business model, digging up what should be collectively owned natural resources, degrading the environment with them, and laughing all the way to the their off shore bank. Don’t think it will happen, they’re addicted to money even more strongly than the economy is to oil, but hey here’s to optimism!

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 04/14/2014 - 04:44 pm.

      Conservatives Conserving

      To be clear, 3M isn’t so much interested in saving clients energy as selling them a new product that happens to save energy.

      Now if we can only get more conservatives (and liberals) to conserve, maybe we would be able to conserve the planet for future generations.

  3. Submitted by THOMAS REYNOLDS on 04/12/2014 - 12:14 pm.

    Definitely a Wow!

    The implications are far flung… bravo for the cooperative effort to create the next generation of data storage and processing.

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