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John O | April 2019

Microsoft holding off on a switch to liquid cooling for its Azure servers


By Josh Perry, Editor
jperry@coolingzone.com

 

According to a report from Data Center Knowledge, engineers at Microsoft announced at the 2019 OCP Summit that they would not yet be switching from air to liquid cooling for its Azure servers due to the lack of maturity of the technology.

 


Despite experimenting with several liquid cooling technologies, Microsoft announced that it will hold off on implementing liquid solutions for its Azure servers. (Wikimedia Commons)

 

As the article noted, Microsoft is expecting that the power demands of next-generation processors will soon require liquid solutions that can manage higher heat fluxes than air, but there remains concern over what technology would be best.

 

Engineers on the Microsoft Azure team voiced arguments for more standardization in the technology, according to the article. The amount of proprietary research and solutions being created, the engineers argued, is limiting the technology’s growth. If engineers were allowed to share work more freely than solutions would be more readily available.

 

“It avoids heat flux, keeping the components at a more constant temperature, and copes better with failures; if a fan fails or loses power, the CPU must shut down in a matter of seconds to avoid overheating, while the thermal inertia of liquid can keep an immersion-cooled chassis functional for up to half an hour,” the article explained about the benefits of liquid cooling.

 

Among the solutions that Microsoft engineers have experimented with include single-phase and passive immersion cooling and microchannel cold plates.

 

“Microsoft isn’t ready to pick a liquid cooling technology and run with it yet,” the article said. “The company has not started deploying any of these options in its Azure data centers, but cooling could become a major issue in two to three years.” Microsoft added that a whole-data center solution could be five to 10 years away.

 

Read the full article at https://www.datacenterknowledge.com/power-and-cooling/testing-liquid-cooling-azure-data-centers-microsoft-says-its-not-ready-dive.

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