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IBM's CoolBlue scheme to bring back water-cooled computing has been boosted by a licensing deal with networking manufacturer Panduit.

Water cooling was standard practice on early mainframes, but cooler running electronics allowed data centres to switch to air-cooled computers, with the chilled water going to the air-con units instead.

Now, however, higher-density technology such as blade servers have put heat dissipation back at the top of the agenda.

Panduit technology veep Jack Tison said it will offer water cooling as an option on its comms racks from next year. "As switch power supplies increase and the kilowatts per cabinet continue to grow, so does the strain on the infrastructure," he added.

The idea behind CoolBlue is a pretty basic one - a heat exchanger is built into the rear door of the equipment cabinet and fed chilled water. IBM says that because water can carry 3,500 times more heat than air, it can reduce cooling power needs by 70 per cent without requiring extra fans.

CoolBlue has already scored one high profile win, with pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim using it to slash the heat output of its IBM supercomputer.

Heat-busting alternatives to CoolBlue include enclosed racks and point-cooling systems from companies such as APC and Liebert - some of which also rely on chilled water to get the heat out of the building. ®

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