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

Vincent Diepeveen diep at xs4all.nl
Tue Sep 4 13:04:42 PDT 2012

On Sep 4, 2012, at 8:54 PM, Ellis H. Wilson III wrote:

> On 09/04/2012 12:54 PM, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
>> Hydrogen is cheaper than He and works even better.  Just make sure  
>> you don't have any air leaks in (i.e. keep a bit of positive  
>> pressure).  For the "server farm in a container" model, this would  
>> work just fine.. leaks would just float up into the atmosphere.
> This is one of those eyebrow-raising suggestions because it is so
> enticing and yet so much could go wrong.  I guess if you had your  
> crates
> in places that didn't have earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, extreme
> winds, snow, freezing rain, recently fired computer programmers from
> Google/Facebook/Amazon/etc with access to high-powered rifles and
> armour-piercing bullets, a guaranteed surplus of hydrogen to continue
> positive pressure and you separated the containers pretty far  
> apart, it
> /might/ be safe.  There are probably a dozen other ways things  
> could go
> amiss with Hydrogen, but these are just the few ways I came up with  
> off
> the top of my head and without a physical sciences background.
> One big concern from my perspective is replacing equipment in these
> boxes.  Maybe the whole thing is just built, sealed for good, primed
> with hydrogen, started, allowed to slowly degrade over time and  
> finally
> tossed when the still working equipment is sufficiently dated?  Not  
> sure
> if the cost/benefit works out for this case.  Switches at least would
> definitely need to be outside the box.

> I know we've been taking things to the uber-scale level with this
> conversation, but does anyone have suggestions for small (homebrew
> Beowulf) clusters?  I've considered oil before, but for all the

For small homebrew clusters like i've got here, price is major issue.
It's $1600 the cluster in components, network not counted,
and not counting possible new harddrives i'm gonna buy.

Yet any form of liquid cooling is simply too expensive.

Furthermore liquid cooling would only be interesting if one overclocks.
that can only be done with single socket systems in a simple cheap  

multi socket solutions are simply cheaper on ebay, not only because  
2 cpu's on a motherboard is more efficient than 2 machines with 1  
also because from more modern cpu's, the multisocket cpu's have far more
cores than the single socket cpu's.

That is the case with previous generation cpu's and it's the case  
with the
current generation as well.

multisocket systems are simply tougher to overclock.

A simple watercooling kit of $100 is not going to cool that much better
than a good heatsink. If you really overclock a lot, you soon need a  
$500 to $700+ kit
with thick tubes.

A single node i've got over here is $200 on ebay however.

> capillary concerns voiced in this list have avoided it.  I would
> consider a reasonable gas (NOT hydrogen) if one could be suggested  
> along
> with a feasible way to keep that gas in a small rack or similar
> structure, or an alternative to oil if a nicer one (albeit not as
> efficient) could similarly be suggested.  Perhaps air or piped
> water-cooling is indeed my best bet.
> Best,
> ellis
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