Submer finds new way to store and cool servers
Submer has found a very unique way to store and cool servers by dunking them in eco-friendly goo. The goo has been developed by the company’s own founders and their new approach is believed to reduce water usage by 99%, energy consumption by 50% and also take up 85% less space.
Who are Submer?
Submer is a Spanish company who provide and specialise in computing liquid immersion cooling for data centres. The company was founded in 2015 by Pol Valls and his brother-in-law Daniel Pope. Valls was a former engineer and programmer and Pope operated a data centre business that was sold to Telefonica.
Using liquid to cool servers is becoming increasingly popular within the data centre industry, with companies such as Microsoft also experimenting with their Project Natick in the North Sea. However, Valls stated that Microsoft’s project, as interesting as it was, did not solve all the problems of the data centre infrastructures that need addressing.
For example, computing needs to happen close to applications which require real-time operations, such as smart cars and 5G technology. Therefore, experimenting with servers in the North sea is an innovative solution, however it takes the infrastructure far away from the applications which need it.
Valls stated, “Hyperscalers and data centres are trying to move infrastructure to the city center to reduce delays in communications. Delays are dependent on the compute and where the user is… low latency applications will require more and more compute close to the city center.”
Submer has subsequently raised approximately $12 million in financing from Tim Reynolds, co-founder of Jane Street Capital and a group of investors led by the Swedish investment firm Norrsken VC. Norrsken, founded by one of the co-founders of Klarna, focuses on innovative technologies which aid the UN sustainable development goals of financial inclusion and sustainable development.
Alexander Danielsson, investment manager at Norrsken VC, said that the investment firm believes that Submer’s liquid cooling solution represents a strong and compelling solution. He also stated that, “Data centres power human advancement. Their role as a core infrastructure has become more apparent than ever and emerging technologies such as AI and IoT will continue to drive computing needs. However, the environmental footprint of the industry is growing at an alarming rate.”
NUS and NTU launch cooling project for tropical data centres
The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have announced a project in an attempt to source and develop new cooling solutions for data centres located in tropical areas. According to the companies, the programme costs S$23mn (US$17.1mn) and plans to research, build and test innovative and sustainable cooling solutions.
The Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT)
The NUS and NTU say that the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) will act as a research point and innovation hub for the project. Facebook, along with the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), is also involved, providing funding for the programme. Further support from other partners includes the Infocomm Media Development Authority, Ascenix, CoolestDC Keppel Data Centres, Red Dot Analytics, and New Media Express.
Commenting on working with the companies, Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure, Alex Johnson, said: “We are excited about the opportunity to partner NUS, NTU, Keppel Data Centres and the CoolestSG community to develop innovative solutions that reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of the average data centre, particularly those located in tropical areas like Singapore”.
The NTU and NUS highlight that Singapore houses 60% of Southeast Asia’s total data centre market, and aims to supply 12% of the country’s total energy needs by 2030. This results in the need to reduce the carbon footprints and power consumption of data centres, meaning more innovative cooling solutions are required, the NTU and NUS said.
Professor Chen Thuan, Deputy President of Research & Technology at the NUS, said: “Data centres are a critical enabler of the digital economy, but the average data centre can exert a significant environmental burden. Aligned with RIE 2025, sustainability is a key research focus of NUS, and our researchers have deep expertise in developing integrated solutions for tropical, urban and Asian settings”.
How will the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) help to provide cooling solutions?
According to the NUS and NTU, the STDCT will be built using equipment such as a novel desiccant-coated heat exchanger and a StatePoint Liquid Cooling System (SPLC) designed by both Nortek Air Solutions and Facebook. The institutions also say they will adopt chip-level hybrid cooling to ensure servers remain cool.
Furthermore, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will aim to manage the “smart operations” of the technologies so that the data centres are water and power efficient, as well as able to preserve equipment and servers.
The NTU and NSU said in a joint statement the combination of the cooling technologies could reduce energy consumption “significantly” and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25%, compared to traditional air-cooled data centres. If adopted industry-wide across the entire tropical region, the energy usage of the data centre industry could potentially be lowered by at least 40%”, the companies said.
The STDCT is expected to be operational by 1 October 2021.