[Beowulf] Servers Too Hot? Intel Recommends a Luxurious Oil Bath

Douglas Eadline deadline at eadline.org
Tue Sep 4 11:56:43 PDT 2012

Of course those massive Zetta scale systems will live in huge
multi-story oil tanks that have been placed in old quarrys,
which provide bedrock support for the tank and a geothermal
heat sink. The sysadmins must operate oil swimming robots and even don
oil scuba suits to service hardware. Don't forget the Sterling engines
using the heat from oil to return a bit of useful work to the system.


> On 09/03/2012 08:04 PM, Christopher Samuel wrote:
>> Hash: SHA1
>> On 03/09/12 23:15, Douglas Eadline wrote:
>>> There was a previous discussion here. Curious to see Intel's
>>> interest in this tech. I assumed it is mostly used for edge cases.
>> It's going to cost a heap to cool an Exascale system, perhaps then the
>> overhead of making bespoke racks for these things will make some sense.
>> But even then it'll take a lot of clever engineering to avoid the
>> issues that Jim mentioned; the capillary action of oil through
>> insulated wires hadn't occurred to me - that could be very messy!
> And let's not forget the weight of all that oil. Even a dense 1U server
> or server blade is still mostly air by volume (I'm guestimating here).
> Replacing that air with a relatively dense liquid is going to put quite
> the load on the server room floor. I doubt any existing raised server
> room floor could support that wait.
> Also not that the racks are horizontal, not vertical. You're giving up a
> a lot of usable volume by switching to horizontal racks. I'm pretty sure
> you can't stack those oil-filled tubs on top of one another.
> Prentice
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