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Revolutionizing Data Center Cooling: Boyd’s Role in the COOLERCHIPS Program


Last updated Jul 8, 2024 | Published on Jul 8, 2024

ARPA-E COOLERCHIPS: Greening Data Centers

The ARPA-E COOLERCHIPS program tackles the challenge of developing advanced cooling technologies to reduce the environmental impact and cost of data centers. The consortium includes industry and academic experts: Boyd, NVIDIA, the Durbin Group, and others. In this project, Boyd shares its innovative thermal management solutions and next-generation design expertise as a crucial contributor to driving the program towards its ambitious goals.

COOLERCHIPS aims to minimize data center energy consumption with a cost-effective thermal management system. This new cooling system will enable IT equipment to operate inside shipping containers, making it ideal for harsh and remote environments.

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Power Surge: AI Pushes Data Center Cooling to the Limit

Cooling data centers poses significant thermal challenges. AI-driven accelerated computing increases the need for efficient cooling with increased processing demand. Processor thermal design power (TDP) is expected to reach 500 watts by 2025, with some GPUs already approaching 700 watts. Additional power consumption and heat dissipation outpace traditional cooling technologies, like air and single-phase liquid cooling. IT organizations need these critical cooling technologies to implement next-generation data center equipment.

NVIDIA’s Omniverse: Optimizing Cooling Solutions Virtually

NVIDIA’s 3D simulation environment, Omniverse, is a digital twin of the COOLERCHIPS hardware, used to optimize and validate the cooling technology before deployment. The team builds a scalable, single-track unit to emulate system performance and uses immersive tray emulators to test hybrid systems. Direct-to-chip two-phase cooling handles high-power components, while single phase immersion cooling manages low-power components, enabling efficient cooling for the highest thermal loads in liquid rack-based systems.

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A Multi-Pronged Approach: Cooling Solutions for Every Component

The COOLERCHIPS concept addresses all deployment levels and program objectives with innovative cold plate technology using a green refrigerant. Two-phase flow visualization techniques optimize cold plate architecture and operating conditions. CFD simulation refines flow and temperature distribution inside the immersion tray. At the rack level, an in-rack distributed pumping and flow separation system replaces the conventional cooling distribution Units (CDU). This system separates vapor from liquid and directs spent vapor back to the condensing unit to improve efficiency. Immersion manifolds connect directly to the heat rejection unit. Multiple identical racks connect to emulate an IT cluster, all linked to external heat rejection units with cool array coolers, potentially reducing the cooling tower footprint by four times. This integration reduces total power consumption to only 5% of the IT load.

Green & Efficient: Next-Gen Data Centers with Zero Water

The COOLERCHIPS program redefines data center energy efficiency and sustainability with advanced technology, achieving a PUE of less than 1.05 and targeting over 160 kW per rack and more than 20.7 kW per cubic meter. Designed for geolocation flexibility within ISO 40′ containers, it operates efficiently in ambient temperatures up to 40°C. With 12 years Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) and availability exceeding 99.99%, it aims for a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of less than 1 and zero water consumption, setting a new standard for data center cooling with efficiency, resilience, and environmental responsibility. The program also demonstrates strong financial viability with an impressive 19% investment rate of return and a 7-year total payback period, underscoring its technological advancements.

Beyond the Benchmark: Cooler Tech Chases Evolving Needs

The program continues to advance data center cooling technology as AI-driven computing and high-performance computing (HPC) evolve, which increases the demand for more efficient cooling solutions. It refines advanced cooling technologies to optimize efficiency and responsiveness, leveraging achievements in high power density, low PUE, and environmental sustainability. This ongoing refinement ensures that the program remains at the forefront of innovation in data center cooling, meeting evolving industry needs and setting new benchmarks for efficiency and environmental responsibility.

Boyd Powers COOLERCHIPS: Cold Plate Tech Drives Efficiency

Boyd’s extensive expertise in two-phase cooling and liquid cooling systems is fundamental to the success of the COOLERCHIPS program. Our advanced cold plate technology plays a pivotal role in achieving the program’s ambitious objectives, effectively managing the substantial thermal demands of next generation data centers. Boyd’s cold plates, engineered for optimal efficiency and performance, are essential components in this effort. By incorporating Boyd’s innovative cooling solutions, the COOLERCHIPS program ensures that data centers operate not only with enhanced efficiency but also with a sustainable approach, paving the path for future innovations in data center cooling.

Collaborate with us to leverage our rich heritage, expertise, and capabilities in developing innovative liquid cold plates for advanced two-phase pumping systems, enabling energy-efficient and high-performance cooling solutions for your specific applications.

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