Feeds

Facebook throws servers on their back in HOT TUBS of OIL

These babies weren't built for comfort - they were built for SPEED

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Exclusive Facebook is dunking its servers in gloop in a salt shed in Oregon so it can overclock their processors, The Register has learned.

The experimental, brutal "immersion cooling" scheme was revealed to us by Facebook hardware design and supply chain bigwig Frank Frankovsky on Friday. Though Facebook had tested out an immersion cooled server in 2012, the company is now moving to get the kit into a state where it can be deployed en masse.

"Today we and most others use 100 percent outside air [to cool servers]," Frankovsky explains. "One of the really cool and intriguing things that is a potential future would be to see how far we could overclock CPUs if we could cool them with liquid."

To figure out if liquid cooling is appropriate for its systems, the company is currently experimenting with a design that turns an Open Compute Project server rack onto its side and runs the power busbar systems parallel to the floor, with motherboards plugging in on top, he said.

"Most of the thought we have around that cooling is that Open Rack laid flat on its back," Frankovsky explained.

By surrounding the servers in a liquid the company should be able to ramp up the clockspeed of their processors without worrying about breaking the CPUs, he said.

But this brings its own problems, due to the "pretty slippery" liquid. Frankovsky notes that it's not usually a good idea to fill a data center with viscous gloop.

"If you want to deploy those immersion cooling bathtubs at scale you have to have the service mode wrapped up and then you envision the way robotics could play – keep it over a drip tray and go back to a repair room."

Facebook has no immediate plans to put the systems into production, but is pushing on with the scheme as "we've got the reality of how to make it a servicable configuration," Frankovsky said.

Facebook didn't disclose the precise technology it was using for the scheme, but we would note that a company named Iceotope came out of stealth this year with a magic liquid named 3M Novec that is non-conductive and viscous.

For this reason, and given Frankovsky's description of the slippery gloop Facebook is using, we doubt the company is doing water cooling via radiator panels as many supercomputer operators do. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Cray-cray Met Office spaffs £97m on VERY AVERAGE HPC box
Only 250th most powerful in the world? Bring back Michael Fish
UK.gov pushes for SWIFT ACTION against nuisance calls, threatens £500k fines
DCMS seeks lowering of legal threshold to fight rogue firms
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
The DRUGSTORES DON'T WORK, CVS makes IT WORSE ... for Apple Pay
Goog Wallet apparently also spurned in NFC lockdown
Microsoft brings the CLOUD that GOES ON FOREVER
Sky's the limit with unrestricted space in the cloud
'ANYTHING BUT STABLE' Netflix suffers BIG Europe-wide outage
Friday night LIVE? Nope. The only thing streaming are tears down my face
Google roolz! Nest buys Revolv, KILLS new sales of home hub
Take my temperature, I'm feeling a little bit dizzy
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
How to simplify SSL certificate management
Simple steps to take control of SSL certificates across the enterprise, and recommendations centralizing certificate management throughout their lifecycle.