Dell finds liquid cooling tech on eBay, now wants you to buy it

Power usage effectiveness score of 1.03 with custom Xeons and cold pipes on chips

Dell's Triton liquid cooling rigs
Dell's comparison of Triton and other liquid cooling rigs

Dell is getting into the water-cooled server business for hyperscalers with an offering called “Triton” that it developed for eBay.

Dell says it's keen on water cooling because it's cheap: data centres nearly always have a cooling tower that lower the temperature of water so it is sensible to put that cool water to good use. But most water-cooled rigs have secondary pumps and/or distribution units that further cool the water before sending it to a rack. Those pumps consume electricity and make heat, two things you want to do less of in a data centre

Plumbing the depths of the R&D capacity in its Extreme Scale Infrastructure department, Dell therefore figured out how to use cool water without the intermediary box.

The result is a rig that sees water flow straight from the cooling tower to a wall outlet, then through copper pipes that sit right on top of the CPU. Dell says its preferred pipes are pushed to 350PSI, several times their likely working load, and that there are moisture and drip detectors all over the servers and the military-grade piping used to bring chilled H2O to racks and CPUs.

eBay's apparently recorded a 70 per cent increase in queries per second with a Triton rig and the custom Xeon E5-2679 v4 cooked up to handle a cold copper pipe on its back. Dell reckons that's good news for others who like their CPUs fast and their data centres cool.

The headline outcome will also appeal to many: Dell claims Triton delivers 1.03 PUE in all climates. PUE – or Power Usage effectiveness – measures the amount of energy that goes into the building and divides it by the amount consumed by actual working kit, both computing machines and cooling kit. PUE of 1.1 or 1.2 is considered excellent. Getting PUE to 1.03 is exceptional and will mean Dell can have some interesting discussions with hyperscale operations.

Dell says it's also working on “a 'closed loop' version of ‘Triton’ that offers the same liquid cooling technology and CPU support, but removes the need for datacenters to have facility water at the rack” and will make it more attractive to all sorts of customers. ®


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