[Beowulf] let's standardize liquid cooling

Andrew Holway andrew.holway at gmail.com
Sun Sep 30 00:01:48 PDT 2012

Using rear door chillers which were evaporativity cooled we were
removing 25kw per rack. This was 72 modern supermicro nodes per rack
at full power.

It was cheap as chips and very effective but we did just exhaust the
heat into the atmosphere.

2012/9/28 Mark Hahn <hahn at mcmaster.ca>:
> I have a modest proposal:
> standardize the location of liquid-cooled cold plates in each 19" rack.
> nodes would have internal heatpipes from heat sources (presumably CPUs
> mostly) to plates along the sides to mate/contact with the rack.
> I have an aging machineroom with ~50 racks, with the compute racks
> dissipating something like 11KW aircooled.  total dissipation a little
> under 300KW.  contemplating upgrades, it would need to go to about
> 1MW to be viable, and should be smart about cooling (free cooling,
> or pre-heating the building's air intake during winter.)  our current
> setup is reasonably tuned (well-partitioned air, PUE of 1.3-1.4.)
> we happen to be located in a southerly part of Canada, and would
> definitely need active cooling during summer.  but the real point of
> using liquid cooling right to the CPU is that it would reduce the
> overall thermal resistance, and permit higher outgoing temperatures,
> which then stand more of a chance of being interesting, utility-wise.
> it seems to me like this would be doable - vendors currently each
> have a slightly different node-rail combination, but I don't think this
> is really perceived as a competitive advantage.  they would presumably
> have to accept a standard design (perhaps just a literal rail with no
> ball-bearing widgets to vertically position the node.  I personally
> find little or no value in the ability to pull out a node and have it
> hang in place.
> I don't know whether there would have to be some kind of clamping mechanism
> to put pressure on the node, improving the plate-to-plate contact.
> I guess that would need to be per-U, which is a bit of a pain.
> internally, a node could use heatpipes or possibly small pumps.
> how the rack-mounted plates are cooled would be available for innovation
> (in-rack DX cooling might be attractive, though for bigger installations,
> presumably some center-wide circulation of glycol/etc would make sense.)
> there is some vendor-specific activity along these lines, and a fairly
> long history of per-rack heat exchangers.  obviously, avoiding vendor lockin
> is hugely attractive, especially to a Beowulf mindset.  vendors, of course
> love lockin, but have accepted standards in various ways (Intel's PSU
> standards, JEDEC ram, etc)
> it also seems so obviously a win to avoid air as a means of transferring heat
> from the cpu to the rackmounted dx coil mere inches away...
> comments?
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