Water-cooled supercomputers on the way

Around the world, engineers are searching for energy-efficient ways to cool down racks of computers in warehouses that get as hot as an oven while powering the internet, LiveScience reports. A new study suggests warm water might just be the wave of the future for cooling these energy-hogging data centers–and recouping some of their waste heat as useful energy. Early next month, IBM and a Swiss university plan to test out this concept with an innovative water-cooled supercomputer called Aquasar that will cut energy costs and contribute to campus heating needs. At 140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (60 to 70 degrees Celsius), the liquid chilling the electronic guts of Aquasar will be hot by human standards. But this “warm” cold water will keep the computers’ components below a performance-hurting 185 degrees Fahrenheit (85 degrees Celsius) and pack enough energy for other purposes. “Essentially [Aquasar] will be a thermal power plant,” said Ingmar Meijer of IBM Research-Zurich in Switzerland, who wrote an article on the water-cooling of servers appearing today in the journal Science. “You feed your electrical energy in there…but the electrical energy is not lost, it is just converted to thermal energy that you can use for building heating…”

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