ST. PAUL, Minn. — 3M has announced the development of a fully functional supercomputer developed in collaboration with Intel and SGI that uses a new two-phase immersion cooling technology from 3M that reduces energy use while increasing supercomputer efficiency.

In this proof-of-concept, SGI® ICE™ X, a fifth generation distributed memory supercomputer, and the Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 hardware are placed directly into 3M™ Novec™ engineered fluid. 3M said the fluid is an efficient dielectric that keeps the hardware cooled with minimum additional energy, maximum performance, and better reliability. The two-phase immersion cooling technology can reduce cooling energy costs by 95 percent and reduces water consumption by eliminating municipal water usage for evaporative cooling, said the company. Heat can also be harvested from the system and reused for heating and other processes.

According to 3M, this technique has been shown to require 10 times less space than conventional air cooling and eliminates air cooling infrastructure and equipment associated with conventional liquid cooling, making it cost effective for large-scale data center hubs. It enables tighter component packaging — allowing for greater computing power in less space — and easy access to hardware with no residue.

“We are thrilled with the work that our collaboration with SGI and Intel has produced,” said Joe Koch, business director for 3M Electronics Markets Materials Division. “We applaud them for their leadership in helping us find better ways to address energy efficiency, space constraints, and increased computing power in data centers.”

In-depth evaluation of the system is underway. In addition, the companies are working with the Naval Research Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and APC by Schneider Electric to deploy and evaluate an identical system with the intention to demonstrate the viability of the technology at any scale.

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Publication date: 5/5/2014

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