conversion to immersion optimized serverServers Designed for Immersion (SDI) – An Alternate Approach

If you’ve already implemented or are considering a “white box” solution – building your own servers – or you want to truly maximize space, power and budget, then SDI may be your best choice.

Immersion cooling technology addresses the key concerns of thermal design and hardware reliability that are common with air-cooled, white box servers. Further, engineering purpose-built servers from the ground up allows more than just design them for cost and performance, but also for space and power utilization.

Key Benefits of Servers Designed for Immersion:

  • Purpose-built for application

  • Mix and match components without worrying about thermal design limitations and reliability

  • No extraneous components, such as integrated fans, heat sinks and oversized power supplies, reduce cost and e-waste

  • More power-efficient – up to 30% lower energy use vs air-cooled servers

  • Maximized rack density with simplified, modular chassis that utilize much higher immersion cooling capacities

SDI are an ideal match for micro-modular, rack-based immersion cooling system and immersion-cooled, modular data centres.

Considerations and Economics

Before getting into the economic analysis, it’s important to understand the advantages of immersion compared to air cooling that help justify its higher up-front cost. To briefly summarize, immersion cooling offers the following benefits:

  • More effective heat dissipation: the fluids used in immersion, called dielectric coolants, are much more thermally conductive and dense than air, making them better at absorbing heat and moving it quickly away from the miners.

  • Increased hardware lifespan: small vibrations and rapid temperature fluctuations degrade hardware lifespan and immersion cooling greatly reduces both of these because the fluid temperature is more stable than air and the fans, which produce the vibrations in air, can be removed in immersion.

  • Better operating conditions: the immersion fluid prevents dust and debris from getting into the hardware, decreasing cleaning and maintenance requirements. Also, the removal of the fans and density of the fluid practically eliminates the noise which can be deafening for miners in air.

  • Improved Efficiency (J/TH): on a new-generation miner like an Antminer S19, the 4 fans consume roughly 35 W each, accounting for ~5% of the machine's total electricity consumption in air. Removing them to run in immersion means that the 5% energy savings can go towards more hashing, improving the J/TH by roughly that amount.

  • Safer Overclocking (more TH/s): the more effective heat dissipation and operating conditions in immersion also enable miners to overclock their machines to a very significant degree, as we’ll see later in this article. 

All of these benefits make immersion cooling superior to air cooling regardless of the climate that the miner is operating in. However, it comes at a much higher up-front cost, so there’s still a question of whether or not immersion cooling is worth it. While that will depend largely on the local climate of the operation, this article will outline the structure for making this determination with all of the not-so-small details to consider with it.