SHEFFIELD, England — Iceotope announced a new study with Meta confirming the practicality, efficiency, and effectiveness of chassis-level liquid cooling technology to meet the cooling requirements of high-density storage disks increasingly being deployed and utilized by hyperscale data center service providers.

The study suggests the advantages of improved thermal management, reduced vibration, and equalized temperature across the JBOD, which leads directly to lower failure rates and costs for data center operators. The hard drive systems supplied in a rack form factor in chassis drawers are an ideal fit for precision immersion cooling technology.

“As demand for data storage continues to escalate, so will the solutions needed by hyperscale data center providers to efficiently cool the equipment,” said Neil Edmunds, director of innovation, Iceotope. “The study demonstrated that liquid cooling for high-density storage successfully cools the drives at a lower, more consistent temperature for fewer drive failures, lower TCO [total cost of operation], and improved ESG [environmental, social, and governance] compliance.”

With constant streams of data emerging from the IoT, video, artificial intelligence, and more, up to 463 exabytes of data is expected to be generated by each person, each day by 2025. How data is accessed is constantly changing, causing a real impact on the processing and storage of that data. In just a few years, it's predicted that global data storage will exceed 200 zettabytes — of which half will be stored in the cloud, according to Cybersecurity Ventures .

This presents a unique challenge for hyperscale data center storage infrastructure. According to Seagate, cloud data centers choose mass-capacity hard disk drives (HDDs) to store 90% of their exabytes. Typically found in a 3.5-inch form factor, HDDs are tried and tested technology which continue to offer data center operators cost-effective storage at scale. Current top-of-the-range units provide 20 TB capacity, but this is expected to reach more than 120 TB by the end of the decade.

More data storage means more spinning disks, higher-speed motors, and more actuators — all of which translates into more power being used. As disks go up in power, so does the amount of heat they produce. The introduction of helium into hard drive enclosures over the last decade has not only improved disk performance with less drag but, with the units now sealed, the practicality of using liquid cooling solutions at HDD level has been opened.

The study showcases an air-cooled, high-density storage system reengineered to utilize single-phase immersion cooling. The standard commercial storage system consisted of 72 hard drives, two single socket nodes, two SAS expander cards, an NIC, and a power distribution board in a 4OU form factor. The hard drives were hermetically sealed and filled with helium.

The liquid cooling system tested was an Iceotope precision immersion liquid cooling system — the air-cooled version was modified with the addition of a dedicated dielectric loop connected to a liquid-to-liquid heat exchanger and pump. Meta proceeded to measure temperature variation across the hard drives and cooling pump power in the air-cooled and liquid-cooled systems.

The results are conclusive

The study successfully demonstrated precision immersion cooling was a more efficient means of cooling the HDD racks with the following results.

  • Using precision immersion liquid cooling, the variance in temperature between all 72 HDDs was just 3°C, regardless of location inside the JBODs.
  • Liquid cooling demonstrated that the HDD systems could operate reliably in rack water inlet temperatures up to 40°C.
  • System-level cooling power was less than 5% of the total power consumption.
  • Liquid cooling’s virtually silent operation helps mitigate acoustic vibrational issues for drives.