March 31, 2008

"It's Too Darned Hot"

Electric_bills_2 More expensive electricity, less access to power, cooling challenges, growing data center demands and innovative solutions.  All of these topics are covered in an overview article by Steve Hamm in the March 20 issue of BusinessWeek, titled "It's Too Darned Hot," which reports on data center advances by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Pacific Gas & Electric, Verizon, Sun and IBM.

There's also a fascinating sidebar story by Hamm titled "IBM: Better Chilling Through Biochemistry" that explains how IBM researcher Bruno Michel in Zurich has developed new ways to cool chips with water shot through thousands of nozzles, much like capillaries in the human body.

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In the Alps: Michel of IBM devised a way to cool chips with water jets.

Hamm reports, "IBM researcher Michel is focusing on a seldom-trod territory—where biology and physics meet. Michel, who has a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Zurich, is designing devices that he expects will one day cool chips with a system modeled after the human body. While the processors in server computers are typically cooled with air, these chips are chilled with a liquid delivered through a system similar to the body's capillaries. One of Michel's inventions is a metal cap that fits over a processor and sprays jets of water out of some 50,000 nozzles into microscopic channels etched in the metal. The channels circulate the liquid efficiently and cut the amount of energy required to pump the water."

by Will Runyon March 31, 2008
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