Tech behemoth Microsoft has begun to submerge its servers in liquid to make them more energy-efficient and enhance their performance, as per a report by The Verge. This isn’t the first time the company has seen promise in a liquid-based solution; Microsoft had put its data centre inside the ocean in 2018. Termed as Project Natick, 864 servers and about 27 petabytes of storage were dumped to the floor of the Scottish sea.
Coming back to the present, the Redmond-based tech giant has started submerging its rack of servers in a liquid bath, a process it calls “two-phase immersion cooling”. The liquid being used for the process is a non-conducting, fluorocarbon-based liquid. It absorbs the heat from the server components through direct contact. As per the report, the liquid reaches a lower boiling point at 50 degrees Celcius. Then the liquid condenses and rains back inside the bath. The process begins again as a cycle, a closed-loop cooling system. There is no chiller required to condense the liquid and also, no energy required to move the liquid around the liquid bath, says the report.
The liquid-bath based cooling also allows the company to pack the hardware together more tightly, thus reducing the amount of space they take. As compared to air cooling, the lesser space would make cooling via liquid baths faster. With the new approach, the company is, for now, just experimenting and checking if this method is reliable enough for future use and how it could benefit Cloud and AI.