IBM is turning to water cooling for its new server range and is claiming a 40 per cent reduction in power costs.
The new Power 575 supercomputer uses water-cooled copper baffles to keep the heat from the 448 processor cores. The method is so efficient that 80 per cent fewer cooling modules are needed and this translates into a 40 per cent cost saving on power.
"The new water cooling enables us to scale up our performance, while staying within the given energy envelope in our environment," said Dr. Hermann Lederer, head of Application Support at Garching Computing Center (RZG) at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching, Germany.
"The new computer will enable Max Planck researchers to tackle new challenging scientific problems and solve single compute tasks five to 20 times faster than is possible on the current system, which was Germany's fastest supercomputer in 2002."
The system, dubbed 'Hydro-Cluster', lets IBM pack components in much more densely than before. A single rack of the new computer has 14 2U nodes, each with 32, 4.7-GHz cores of POWER6 processors supported by 3.5TB of memory.
IBM boffins are now working on even more power efficient ideas, such as running cooling water inside the chips themselves. The company is working towards a plan for carbon neutral data centres, where cooling water is used to heat the building itself or nearby homes.