Liquid immersion cooling could be a key component of more sustainable datacentres, according to a Cornish outfit which is hunting for partners as it pioneers the technology.
Goonhilly Earth Station claimed last summer that it was one of the first organisations in the UK to deploy a liquid immersion cooling system from Submer at its new datacentre, which focuses on data-intensive AI and ML applications.
Talking to CRN, Chris Roberts, head of datacentre and cloud at Goonhilly, said early indications are that the technology is around 65 per cent more efficient than traditional air-based cooling techniques.
Goonhilly is hunting for MSP and reseller partners, either with ties in its key verticals of aerospace and academia, or to buy space in the datacentre more generally, said Roberts, a former Pulsant, iomart and Datapipe executive who was brought on board last year to commercialise Goonhilly's datacentre offering.
He described the Submer cooling technology as "like a very big chest freezer", containing synthetic fluid "similar to rapeseed oil".
"It's a non-conductive fluid that allows you to cool servers very efficiently," he explained.
"We haven't completed our analysis, but we're looking at it being roughly 65 per cent more efficient from an energy perspective than traditional cooling systems."
The Submer deployment is just part of Goonhilly's strategy of mitigating the huge carbon emissions that - ironically - accompany pro-social efforts in areas such as climate change science, Roberts said, explaining that Goonhilly is also working on how it can redeploy the heat.
"A lot of AI and ML is based on quite altruistic foundations - how to reduce the impact of climate change, tracking refugees, wildlife distribution. But unfortunately, doing all that takes a shedload of power," he said.
"That really resonates with us, so we've been looking at how we can mitigate that when we build out these systems."
Roberts claimed that MSPs could "move up the value chain" by working with Goonhilly, whose onsite array of solar panels can support the data centre's full power requirements of 500KW.
"We're very focused on verticals like aerospace and academia, and we're looking to partner with people that can add value in those market segments. But we'd also be very happy to work with somebody who just wants to buy some resource on the platform."
Datacentres are expected to consume eight per cent of the world's electricity by 2030, up from two per cent today.
This dramatic hike is prompting datacentre operators to evaluate immersion cooling, where servers are submerged in a thermally conductive dielectric liquid or coolant.
Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd is the company that acquired the famous Goonhilly satellite station from BT in 2014.
It was a "happy accident" that the basic fundamentals for running a datacentre - including renewable energy on tap - were already in place, Roberts said.
Peter Ruffley, chairman of Zizo, which is one of Goonhilly's first datacentre customers, said: "When looking at data centres to host our cloud-based service, only Goonhilly could address our critical issues such as availability, resilience and affordability but also offer the value-add of green energy and immersive cooling. Customers are increasingly asking questions about the carbon footprint of compute power, which makes Goonhilly a great choice."
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