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Using Jet Engines to Cool Servers

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the yay-for-engineers dept.


rpmsci writes "The computer servers that fill huge data centers are producing more heat with every new generation of processors. It's a problem that's sending engineers on a search for cooling fans that are both small enough to fit inside ever-smaller server chassis and powerful enough to dispel increasing amounts of heat. At Hewlett-Packard, they've found one answer in an unexpected place: model jet airplanes."

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Too Late (4, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548405)

ASUS beat them to it []

Re:Too Late (1)

TheChrisMan (982990) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548504)

Yeah, I've long had a similar Thermaltake product [] and people at LANs often comment on the "jet engine" that I have cooling my CPU.

Re:Too Late (1)

harrkev (623093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548526)

Not really. The fan blade on front looks pretty much like one from a standard computer fan. It has seven shallow blades, just like every other fan in my computer case. The article led me to believe that this was just more than a standard fan blade in a new housing. More likely, it is going to be a completely different shape. The picture in the article even shown a rounded or pointed hub, as compared to the picture that you linked to, which just has a flat spot to hold a sticker.

Re:Too Late (2, Funny)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548528)

This of course leads to the obligatory lines, "Thank you for flying with HP Airlines. I'm Miss Goodbint, and I'll be your data server on this flight. Please ignore the vast sucking noises coming from the rack, they're normal. In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, strange little yellow masks will pop out of the equipment so your data center technicians don't asphyxiate."

Not the same thing (4, Insightful)

linuxkrn (635044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548534)

That asus is just a standard fan mounted in a case that looks like a jet engine, but it's the same technology.

On the other hand, the HP one uses small blades that are shorter and that spin faster. As such they create more thrust/airflow and reduce noise that normal blades produce from the tips of their blades.

RTFA, it's got a good discription, yeah, I know it's /. but sometimes it's worth reading.

Re:Not the same thing (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548585)

I need to remember to use smiley faces. That's supposed to be a joke, not a serious comment. (That's +3 Funny for your moderators, not +3 Insightful!) Anyone who's ever seen the StarIce invariably comments, "It's a freaking jet engine!" :)

How they work. (4, Informative)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549998)

On the other hand, the HP one uses small blades that are shorter and that spin faster. As such they create more thrust/airflow and reduce noise that normal blades produce from the tips of their blades.

That's about all the article says.

The key ingredient to a ducted fan is efficient expansion. Any old array of twisted parts can propell air. I read another article and fabricated such a thing from Dixie cups. After your rotor comes the stator, a very important component missing from ordinary fans, which removes the angular component of the flow velocity. You want to move the air down your axis not around it. Getting the air moving along the axis and expanding it out to larger volumes without wasting your effort is hard to do. Adding any stator will help. Doing it quietly and efficiently is one of those rocket science things.

Wikipedia, of course, has a quick article, []

and Google turns up an easy design text [] .

Re:How they work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15550197)

hi, just wondering if you were planning to address some of the replies to your post of yesterday [] . Thanks.

Re:Not the same thing (1)

Total_Wimp (564548) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550376)

Not the same thing

That asus is just a standard fan mounted in a case that looks like a jet engine, but it's the same technology.

On the other hand, the HP one uses small blades that are shorter and that spin faster. As such they create more thrust/airflow and reduce noise that normal blades produce from the tips of their blades.

On the other hand neither technology is even remotely related to jet engines in the normal sense of the word and both are really just electric fans. I probably wouldn't have bothered to bring it up, since anyone can see so just by looking a TFA, but I thought it was funny that

a) the headline of the aritcle "Using Jet Engines to Cool Servers" was comicly misleading and
b) You're sitting here trying to point out that the poster above you doesn't get that the Asus thingamabob is only pretending to be a jet engine when, in fact, both are just posers

I know, at least one is capable of propelling an aircraft. So are standard propellers. The minute they start putting real jet engines on motherboards let me know. I could use another good laugh.


Re:Too Late (1)

epp_b (944299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549262)

ASUS beat them to it []
Well, Tom's is the right place to test this kind of thing. I bet they have one for each ad.

Not a jet. (3, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548492)

These are just ducted fans. There are actually tiny gas turbine engines available for model aircraft.
I have to wonder how much if this is really just hype. Last time I looked at my cooling fan it was already a ducted fan.
Are they adding extra stages? Maybe more an more efficient airfoil on the fan blades? Longer duct? Higher RPM?
I find this a huge so what.

Re:Not a jet. (1, Funny)

arivanov (12034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548628)

There are actually tiny gas turbine engines available for model aircraft.

You mean "used to be available". Have you tried to order these after 9/11?

Re:Not a jet. (2, Informative)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548993)

You mean "used to be available". Have you tried to order these after 9/11?
Yes, there's virtually no difference in availability:

And there's a whole bunch more here [] . There's no shortage of gas turbine planes and pilots in our aeroclub [] , either.

Re:Not a jet. (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548944)

They are electric motors attached to ducted fan assemblies.

In the RC propulsion industry, they have highly optimized the electric motors and the blade designs to produce the most amount of thrust on the smallest amount of power, since these are battery powered.

Of course, HP is modifying the fan design to optimize the pressure which is apparently different from thrust.

BTW, they do actually have small, gas turbines (small as in less than 12" long) that work just like a large gas turbine. They can power model planes to very high speeds. They don't see much use due to the extreme heat they put out and the cost. If you crash you jet into just about anything, you are almost guaranteed to have a fire.

Backpressure and blade-pitch optimization. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549299)

Of course, HP is modifying the fan design to optimize the pressure which is apparently different from thrust.

It makes sense that this would be the case: if you think about how a jet engine is mounted, there's no backpressure on the exhaust stream aside from atmospheric pressure, which tends to be constant at the altitudes that RC planes fly. However, if you were to mount it so that the out-flow was restricted (because it's blowing into a computer chassis), then you'd need to redesign the blades. My initial guess is that the pitch has to change, although I haven't done any analysis of it.

What I wonder is whether the pitch of the blades and the overall design has to be changed for each application? Depending on the configuration of the machine these fans are going to be used in, the back-pressure (outflow restriction) is going to be different, necessitating different design optimizations.

It would be interesting if they produced a fan that had variable pitch blades, controlled by some sort of servo, that would maximize flow or pressure in different situations. Perhaps such a system could even be used to regulate airflow while keeping the spindle turning at some fixed speed at which the motor was most efficent.

I don't do ducted-fan RC stuff (helis are my thing, personally) so I don't know if anyone has ever made a variable-pitch miniature jet engine. If they did, then the HP guys might be able to use that without much modification. Even if nobody has done it before, it doesn't seem like it would exactly be that difficult, with the correct budget and resources available (like a good shop and skilled prototyping machinist).

Re:Backpressure and blade-pitch optimization. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15551384)

Actually the thrust is in large part generated by the pressure difference in a jet engine.
If you have too much back pressure you can have what is called a fan or compressor stall. The blades will stall just like a wing and well if you fly anything you know that bad things happen when airfoils stall.
You can get around stalling a few ways. By having a lot of stages by limiting the amount of compression in each stage I.E. limit the pitch of each of the fans. The high tech way is to change the pitch of the stators between each stage. In effect getting a variable pitch fan since the stators and just the angle at witch the fan blades met the air. Or you could use a centrifugal compressor like many of the early jets, most turbo-props, and I think all RC jets now use.

Frankly I think that HP has nothing but a fancy fan with a lot of marketing hype. Every fan I have seen on a PC already is in a duct. Variable pitch is would be useless since the back-pressure would tend to be fixed. So all that I can think of is the airfoil of the blades. They are probably molding the fan with an airfoil and spending a lot of money on marketing hype.

Christ, is "active" a hip marketing term again? (4, Funny)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548501)

"The end product is HP's Active Cool Fan..."

Christ, is "active" a hip marketing term again? I thought "ActiveX" put a bullet in that fad...

Re:Christ, is "active" a hip marketing term again? (2, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548524)

Well, it certainly isn't a passive cooling solution...

Why bother? (4, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548513)

Air is such a poor heat transfer medium. Why not build a rack with a water cooling system built in? I have an external water cooled solution on my home PC connected via a set of no-break quick release couplings. So any time I need to pull my PC apart I can pop the coolant lines with out losing a drop of coolant or introducing air into the system.

I can't imaging running a fleet of model airplane engines is going to be quite, cheap, or all that reliable. Especially when compared to an rack integrated water cooling system.


Re:Why bother? (1)

Burlap (615181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548552)

I picked up a Zelman Reserator 1 Plus yesterday and cant wait to get it installed. Far better cooling then any air fan out there and no noise. (sure, it set me back a mint, but worth it)

Re:Why bother? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548558)

I don't have much experience with water cooling solutions, but what happens when that full-rack system springs a leak or develops some other problem? Do you end up losing the whole rack of machines (either temporarily or permanantly)?

Re:Why bother? (2, Insightful)

caffeinatedOnline (926067) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548725)

I don't know much about in a rack system, but I had been running a Big Water [] system in my gaming rig for about a year, and it developed a slow leak. Mind you, they recommend that you check the fittings every so often for leaks, which is something that I didn't do as religiously as I should have. I had modified it by including 2 VGA coolers, and a leak developed on one of the VGA coolers and a smaller leak on the CPU block.

The leak from the CPU block was such a small leak that it dripped sludge, as the water evaporated before it could actually drip, and the residues built up. Unfortunately, the sludge landed right on the back of one of the video cards, on the GPU connections. Crossfire didn't much appreciate the signals that the video card was sending, and pretty much fried both cards and the PCI-e slots on the motherboard.

The leak from the VGA block dripped on my audio card, and fried that. In the end, I ended up having to replace 2 video cards, an audio card, motherboard, and a 1 gig stick of ram (fried as well, but can't be sure that it was caused by the water.) I can imagine that a leak in a rack would be even more catastrophic.

Re:Why bother? (1)

GmAz (916505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548837)

Ya, leaks suck. My Koolance setup has been great for about three years, except with I over tighened the fill plug and it was leaking outside the case. There was no threat to my machine, just had to replace the resovoir. As for your leaky water blocks. SOrry to say, but you must have had some really cheap connectors on it or or peiced together your own hose, fasteners and blocks from different sources. h=29_44&products_id=114 [] is just one example of the blocks I use. The hose gets pushed on the end and then the metal fastener screws on top of the hose. There is no way it will come off or leak unless you loosen the fastener.

Re:Why bother? (1)

caffeinatedOnline (926067) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548910)

Actually everything I was using was included in the kit or, in the case of the VGA blocks, still thermaltake and made for the watercooling system. Same setup, push the hose over the nipple and tighten down a nut to hold the hose in place. I honestly could never really tell where the leak was, but my guess was from the connection of the nipple to the actual block.

Re:Why bother? (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549392)

If it was the connection between the nipple and the block then it was a manufacturing error. You could atleast get the water cooler replaced under warenty and you may be able to hold the manufacturer liable for the rest of the damages.


Re:Why bother? (1)

GmAz (916505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550987)

I agree. I would have tried to get it replaced. With the reliability of my setup, I always recommend water cooling to friends.

Re:Why bother? (4, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548888)

Might want to try some Fluid XP [] coolant. It's non-conductive, so no zapped parts. It's non-corrosive, so fewer motor problems. And it's non-toxic, so if your 2-year old glugs a quart of it, all they get is blue teeth.

I've never heard anything bad about it, and it works fine for me.

Hard Lesson (2, Insightful)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549144)

That's a hard lesson learned there, spend the $35 for a non-conductive liquid and save hundreds, if not thousands in hardware costs. The same thing applies to UPSes.

Re:Hard Lesson (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549480)

The thing that really sold me on it was the fact that it was non-toxic. I have too many kids and animals lurking around the house for me to feel comfortable leaving a nice toxic candy-colored liquid lying around the house.

Re:Hard Lesson (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550492)

I've got that issue as well. Good point. So far I've only done air-cooled, but was considering a liquid cooled system. This definitely helps, esp after all the "my water cooled system leaked!" posts. I was actually considering a low-viscosity non-conductive oil, similar to the concept of the oil-filled/cooled PC [] .

Re:Why bother? (1)

(A)*(B)!0_- (888552) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549211)

Somewhat related - has anyone seen a water-cooled external hdd enclosure? I'd like a nice little self-contained unit.

Re:Why bother? (1)

michrech (468134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550072)

Somewhat related - has anyone seen a water-cooled external hdd enclosure? I'd like a nice little self-contained unit.I

Did you even TRY to look? I spent 10 seconds with google and this is on the first page of results:

Clicky []

Here is the google URL so you can look further:

ClickyX2 []

Re:Why bother? (1)

July 21, 2006 (968634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15552507)

That isn't an external enclosure genius. That's just a hard drive enclosure for a 5.25" drive bay; not external.

Re:Why bother? (1)

mauthbaux (652274) | more than 8 years ago | (#15552518)

Similar Story.

I've had an Asetek ( cooling system installed in my box for almost 2 years now. I love it. Even running the thing at full processor load on both the video card and the processor (a p4 prescot), temperatures won't go more than 10 degrees above ambient. And yes, that's with very minimal fan noise.

Unfortunately, my system developed a leak too. The leak actually occurred on the chipset block, between the block and the fitting. It was a slow leak, but not slow enough to evaporate before it accumulated. And where did it accumulate? directly over my AGP slot. The water pooled up on top of the video card, leaked into the slot itself, and after 10 seconds of weird behavior on the monitor, the system shuts down.

The damage? Nothing really. I opened it up, used a cotton swab to dry out the slot, wiped the card off, and ran some rubber cement around the chipset block fitting. Less than a (panicked) half hour later, I turned the machine back on, and haven't had a problem since. Moterboard is a Giga-byte 8KNXP (rev 2). Video card is an Asus, GeForce 5600 Ultra. The system was running regular old distilled water. The fact that they survived 'the wettening' (invader zim refference) so well has planted a bit of brand-loyalty in my mind. When I upgrade, I'll try and stick with the same manufacturers.

And yes, the new system will also be liquid-cooled.

My experience with water-cooling leak (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15551546)

When I was in college, we had a computer that had a water-cooling leak that sprayed directly at the motherboard and fried it. Unfortunately, since this was ~1975, the computer was the IBM 370 mainframe that provided most of the computing for the campus, and it was down for a few weeks.

In a smaller, more modern environment, the effect on other computers is going to depend on whether the cases let water leak from one to the next - e.g. in a stack of 1U, are there vents on the top and bottom or only sides - and on whether there's enough liquid leaking to get to the other machine before it evaporates.

Re:Why bother? (2, Insightful)

harrkev (623093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548580)

This is not my field, but I would imagine that it would be because business are averse to risk. Fans are known and reliable. Watercooling is new and unknown in a 19" rack. What if YOU were the first one to suggest installing it, and it leaked? Bye bye job.

If an enthusiast's system leaks, he misses the next LAN party. If it happend on the top computer on a rack, that system goes down. The water then trickes down to the next lower computer and destroys it. Maybe the water will go down to the next computer under that.

I do admit that some clever engineering to put drain pans leading to drain hoses can connect to a bucket on the floor. But, somehow, I can't imagine too many business buying that.

Re:Why bother? (1)

Bjarke Roune (107212) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548741)

I've heard of the possibility of using something else than water to do the cooling that will not impair the computer if it is sprayed over the it.

Re:Why bother? (1)

System.exit(true) (981356) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549412)

Distilled water, which is commonly used with an additive to stop algae or corrosion, is not conductive. So other then getting wet, the system should not short out.

Until it lands in the dust (2, Insightful)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549529)

Won't it then become conductive, or rather the mixture of wet dust?

Distilled water doesn't work! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15550438)

I saw an experiment that proved distilled water does indeed short out electronics. They dropped three separate running tv's in ordinary water, distilled water and cooking oil. Only the cooking oil one kept working, the other two shorted out and made fireworks as soon as they hit the water.

Re:Distilled water doesn't work! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15550533)

That is because of all the impurities the TV introduced into the distilled water as it dropped.

Re:Why bother? (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548588)

Because it's all ultimately aircooling anyway. Where does your water radiate its heat to? The air. If you can air cool it directly, it cuts out the middle man and the cost of water cooling.

Re:Why bother? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548854)

Water can store a lot more heat than air can. It's also easier to put a small waterblock on the cpu and have it pump into a huge external take with a huge surface area.


Re:Why bother? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549107)

The problem is that datacenters don't use home PCs. The reason watercooling works so well in home systems is because the water stores an enormous amount of energy and you can put a giant heatsink on the back of your system with one big slow moving fan to get a very cool running (especially since you only use it for a few hours at a time and then let it cool back down afterwards) system that is very quiet but also takes up enormous amounts of space and will still get hot if you run it continuously at full bore for days on end.

Also, the failure modes for watercooled systems are much less forgiving than those of air cooled systems. At least with an air cooled system you don't have to worry about one computer leaking over everything in the rack.

Re:Why bother? (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549268)

All you need to do for it to work on a larger scale is to increase the amount of water in the system (the amount of energy the system can contain) and improve the transfer of that energy from the system. Instead of using an air conditioner to cool hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of air to cool a server room, you can use a chiller to pull the heat out much more efficiently.

As for failure modes, water cooling isn't all cheap little toys with no engineering. With proper design and quality the critical failure rate (ie: leaks) can be reduce to an insignificant amount. We aren't talking about 2 mil cheapo hoses with a rubber band holding them together.

Is a traditional air cooled system safer? Yes. Is a model air plane engine based cooling solution more efficient or reliable? No.


Liquid cooling with HVAC chilled water (2, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549414)

Actually most datacenters already have massive water-cooling systems: only they're building wide and generally used to cool the air. I'm talking about the HVAC system, of course.

Large buildings generally don't circulate Freon from one floor to another, it would be too expensive. Instead, they have a big refrigeration unit (roof mounted, usually) with big cooling towers and the rest, and use it to chill water, which is pumped throughout the building and used to cool air.

It wouldn't be very difficult to tap into the chilled-water lines that already exist in most buildings, and use them to cool the servers directly. In fact this was once a lot more common: back in the day, it wasn't uncommon for big mainframes to be water-cooled. I've worked with big scientific apparatus that's also water-cooled, and a lot of it used lots of electricity as well, so it's not as though the engineering is impossible.

Yes, there are certain risks associated with having water flow through your computer system, especially in regards to leaks. But there are lots of pieces of equipment that contain liquid and wouldn't appreciate leaks, and we don't think twice about them. For very valuable systems, an additional cooling loop filled with a non-conductive (or even better, a pressurized gas) coolant could be used, with a heat exchanger connecting to the building chilled water.

I think there are some IBM blade systems out there right now that use liquid cooling, but for some dumb reason they won't accept building chilled-water connections (believe it or not, they need water that's warmer than most building supplies). I can't find a link to it right now, but basically it introduces an additional heat exchanger for the sole purpose of warming the incoming chilled water supply before circulating it through the systems. Obviously, this limits their attractiveness and ease of installation.

But at any rate, I think going to liquid cooling, whether water or glycol or something else, is eventually inevitable in high-density applications: despite some of the practical problems involved, when you look at the economics, cooling is one of those things that scales really well. It's going to be cheaper in the long run to reduce the number of heat-transfer steps in between the chip and the outside environment (where the heat is going one way or another), and to do it all at once if possible. Maybe we haven't hit the power/density break-even point yet, but we must be getting close.

I think the reason you still see a lot of air-cooling is because the mass-production of components has made it inexpensive to do, but blade server systems are starting to run into the limits of commodity hardware (as this whole story with HP's fan attests to). When you start having to consider developing specialized cooling hardware anyway, whether for air or liquid, suddenly liquid cooling becomes more attractive.

Re:Liquid cooling with HVAC chilled water (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549566)

It doesn't make sense to tap into the water system and run that through your computers because it's going to be conductive. It makes much more sense to run some kind of special coolant through the computers, and use a fluid-fluid heat exchanger to cool that liquid from that running through the HVAC plant.

Re:Liquid cooling with HVAC chilled water (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550247)

One likely reason for not using HVAC cooled water with out warming it is condensation. Yeah, 40 degree water would really cool the proc down, but it would also cool the air surrounding the pipe and CPU block down too, which would lead to condensation inside the box. I'm not sure how conductive it would be, but it likely wouldn't be good. If instead you use water that is 60-65 degrees, 5 to 10 degrees under room temperature, you'll not have nearly as much of a problem with condensation.


Re:Why bother? (1)

Kuxman (876286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548885)

Not really... water is a better conductor of heat than air. When you run the water through your heatsink, it takes away more heat, faster than air. Then when you go to radiate the water in its tank, the air takes the heat away (yes, albeit slower, but with the right amount of water/storage tank, the transfer is much better than that of just plain air).

Re:Why bother? (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549134)

But look at the energy used in the situation. A single 1/2 hp pump could push water through the entire rack and to an external radiator. You stick that radiator in the building HVAC exhaust vent (ie: passive, or parasitic) or into a highly efficient cooling system (active, phase change, peltier, etc..) and you have a pretty low power, high efficiency system. And a single water pump is a pretty reliable device. And for saftey, it wouldn't be hard to put a second redundant pump in place. I can head down to home depot and get a 1/2hp water pump and assorted plumbing items for under $100. Bulk rate on the no-break disconnects would be pretty cheap also. Toss in a hand full of flow sensors and alarms and you're ready to rock.

All of the items involved are time tested and proven to work. As compared to an array of model airplane engines which will cost $300 a piece, require specialize and expensive (compared to electricity) fueling, and are not going to hold up to extended service (24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for multiple years? I just don't see a model airplane engine holding up to that)


Re:Why bother? (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549852)

If you bothered to RTFA, you'd see they're talking about electric ducted fans. Not gas engines. Its an electric motor with a fan in a tube. Nothing earthshattering here, except perhaps that HP is starting to actually develop some ideas now that whats-her-name is gone. Now, if they were talking about one of the gas-turbine jet engines, or a glow-fuel piston engine, you'd have valid points.

Re:Why bother? (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550179)

[sob]I never learned to read![crying]

Err, my bust. The article mentions "Jets" numerous times, I mistakenly thought the electric part of the title was referring to the duct (in so form of control) and the jet was referring to the power source. I see now that it article was just craply written. Thanks for the clarification.


Re:Why bother? (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548750)

HP built many, many liquid-cooled processors, with tubing leading to remote heat exchangers. They were doing them as early as the late '80's, and quite possibly earlier.The problem is: in the end you're still dumping heat into air, on the end of the heat exchanger. I know there are systems that actually have full-loss water running through them and out into the sewer but that doesn't seem to be very popular, doubtless because there are environmental and ongoing-cost concerns.

Re:Why bother? (1)

eth1 (94901) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548911)


If rack-mount servers all had standardized couplings, you could just buy the server, slap it in the rack, and plug the rack hoses into the server. Even better is that once you've got the heat contained in the water, just plug the rack into the centralized (and external to the server room) heat exchanger (via another standardized coupling) and start saving a bundle on a/c costs. Unfortunately I think you'd still need to worry about a bunch of small pumps everywhere, though. One big one to circulate water through the heat-exchanger which would act as a sort of water bus that the smaller rack pumps would feed off of. The racks would, in turn act as a bus for the individual server pumps.

It might start getting complicated, but you could take it one level further and also modularize the components in the server, which means you could have fanless water cooled power supplies, processors, hard drives, chipsets, etc. (which would have the water cooling hardware built in at the factory... you just need to connect it) Then you'd just need one chassis fan to take care of what little heat is left.

Re:Why bother? (1)

regen (124808) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549146)

Until fairly recently (well 10 years), high end IBM mainframes used water cooling, so many datacenters may alreay have water heat exchangers. With blades esp. I wonder how much power is used cooling them, and how much could be saved by switching to water based cooling?

Re:Why bother? (1)

Phrack (9361) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550326)

Ah, like an old Control Data mainframe or similar ilk. It's hilarious when you get a leak, and a fountain of water shoots 20 feet in the air (it was a 2 story data room).

Well, it was funny for a short while, anyway.

Not Jet engines (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548517)

Sheesh, a ducted fan is NOT a jet engine.
It just means they put a fan inside a tube, rather than have a propeller outside.
It's a cosmetic thing to keep the appearance of a jet.

Other than the fan being in a aerodynamic tube, it really isn't any different.

Model Jet Airplanes? Bah. (1)

silasthehobbit (626391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548540)

I am SO disappointed. I was hoping it would be the real thing.

That would've been entertaining.

You might want to reinforce the footings for those racks before you.. *WHINE* *ROAR* *CRASH*


Re:Model Jet Airplanes? Bah. (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549051)

My first thought: "Oh crap! We've been Slashdotted! Fire up the afterburners!"

How long before we bring back chillers? (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548547)

Those 400psi water chillers on IBM TCM (Themo-Conduction-Module) mainframes did an awesome job of keeping them cool. I'm sure some research into it could yield smaller cheaper units with better thermal conductivity - perhaps some new fluid that's non electrical conducting and better heat characteristics.

How long before we bring back gas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15549251)

One could compromise by making the units hermetically sealed, and piping some other gas than air that conducts heat better. Less worry about fatal leaks.

Powermac (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549353)

Powermac G5 []

They use Delco pumps and radiators in each CPU module.

Re:How long before we bring back chillers? (1)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 8 years ago | (#15553736)

HP is working on this one too (news coming to you directly from their Houston campus)

Not Jet Engines, EDF's. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15548550)

They are not using Jet Engines, they are adpating Electric Ducted Fans, which while they operate on some of the same principles, are very different things. (No combustion chamber, no hot exhaust)

Wait for it (1)

thelonestranger (915343) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548555)

1) Tech installs HP jet fans into all his servers.
2) Tech restarts all his servers.
3) Tech shits himself as all servers simultainiously (sic) take flight smash though the wall and put themselves into a flight path heading fot the North Pole.

Re:Wait for it (1)

Wolfrider (856) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549438)

4. Causing the Russian version of WOPR to shit itself, and launch a nuclear counterattack.

5. ???

6. How about a nice game of chess?

Re:Wait for it (1)

thelonestranger (915343) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550320)

I prefer Tic Tac Toe.

Just stop using Java and Oracle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15548591)

Many such problems are due to the need for the massive amounts of hardware necessary to run many enterprise-grade software packages. Java (and .NET, as well) is one of the most significant causes of such problems. Because of its architecture, the amount of processing necessary per "task" (as in a set of actions, not as in executing processes/threads) is vastly overinflated.

Simply put, software like Java and Oracle isn't a very effective user of CPU resources, thus necessitating the need for vastly more CPUs to be used to perform even basic functionality. I know, I know. We've all seen the benchmarks where Java outperforms some C or C++ code in some limited benchmark, and that JDK 1.5 or the prereleases of 1.6 are far more performant. However, real-world experience tells us that Java consumes far more computing resources than equivalent programs in other languages.

Rewriting a large, enterprise Java app in C++ (or for safety, even a language like SML) can often lead to the consumption of far fewer computing resources. Whereas a certain Java application may need a cluster of 90 to 100 2.8 GHz Opteron systems to run effectively, a similarly-written (ie. algorithms of the same complexity, etc.) system in C++ can make do on 15 of those machines. Using only 1/6 or so of the machines necessary does cut down on the power consumption significantly. That directly leads to financial savings for all of the companies and individuals involved.

Re:Just stop using Java and Oracle. (1)

ShibaInu (694434) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548865)

Ignoring, of course, the cost and effort of converting said apps to C++.

Re:Just stop using Java and Oracle. (1)

nasch (598556) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549057)

Whereas a certain Java application may need a cluster of 90 to 100 2.8 GHz Opteron systems to run effectively, a similarly-written (ie. algorithms of the same complexity, etc.) system in C++ can make do on 15 of those machines.
And I'm sure you have access to research demonstrating that this is generally true, and not just that it happened once. Right?

Beaten by Apple (1)

frostilicus2 (889524) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548603)

Apple did this years ago, but with real jet engines. Its called the PowerMac G4 [] . I was so impressed by this advance, that I immortalised it in my sig.

other options (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15548651)

What about the guy who submerged his entire computer in cooking oil? (Or was it mineral oil?)

Maybe they should consider using the thrust after all. Wasn't there some mention, a few months back, of the "world's smallest flying web server?"

Better yet, use a real jet engine. (Better make it suck air out rather than blast air in, though.) Bonus: hook it to a water pump for the water-cooled machines. (They really do have gas turbine water pumps, btw, used in fire-fighting. Portable and powerful.)

Re:other options (1)

Burlap (615181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549171)

cooking oil, eek, wouldnt want a short

Too late (1)

jzono1 (772920) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548657)

Intel already killed netburs.

Re:Too late (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548833)

But there more then 2 cpus set ups still suck + plus there upcoming quad-cores are just 2 duel cores linked together.

Melted plastic and metal everywhere (4, Insightful)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548680)

Sheesh, Zonk -- could we at least take, say, three seconds to think before writing the article title. How about "Using jet engine technology..." instead of "Using jet engines..."

Little clue: Jet exhaust is... well, let's just call it "a little warm for cooling a server" and leave it at that. The article title gave me this picture of a Rolls jet engine ( things_work/default.jsp) sucking JP4 and blowing 1000's of cubic feet per second of very hot air into the server room here at work.

Oh the humanity!

Re:Melted plastic and metal everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15549088)

I just figured that they installed it backwards from what you described. Put the intake in the server room and the exhaust outside. The vaccuum created inside the server room would cool it off pretty effectively. Of course the other option is just using a turbine to power the HVAC system.


Re:Melted plastic and metal everywhere (1)

JDevers (83155) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549118)

Well, technically, they could have the jet engine intake port going into the server room and passive heatsinks open to the outside on everything. Probably not a great idea, but it would be better than the output port.

PHB: "Why is the system down"
Tech2: "Well, we forgot to power down the cooling system before Tech1 went in to service the system and it sprayed him all over the outside of the building"
PHB: "OK, whatever, I guess you got a promotion. Can you get the thing back up ASAP? Oh, and hire another tech too, maybe this time you should aim for a heavier one..."

Re:Melted plastic and metal everywhere (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549341)

The article title gave me this picture of a Rolls jet engine ( things_work/default.jsp) sucking JP4 and blowing 1000's of cubic feet per second of very hot air into the server room here at work.

Same here, though at least I had the sense to assume it would be blowing in an exhaust direction, using the atmosphere to keep the data center full. :)

My machine is coloed in a building with thousands of other servers, at some scale it must make sense, especially if you could colo up in Canada.

Re:Melted plastic and metal everywhere (1)

merlin_jim (302773) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549720)

The article title gave me this picture of a Rolls jet engine ( things_work/default.jsp) sucking JP4 and blowing 1000's of cubic feet per second of very hot air into the server room here at work.

Turbo prop jet engines that use atmospheric air to cool the turbine can have exhausts below ambient if designed for the task (the air compresses at the beginning of the engine, radiates heat into the bypass down to something approaching ambient, then both air flows expand and cool as they move towards the exhaust)

If you could turn a non-turbo prop turbine with an electric motor or some such instead of burning fuel, it's exhaust would be below ambient too - Using the same effect that freon compressors in air conditioners use - except the working fluid doesn't go through a vapor phase (VERY inefficient), and there aren't enough radiators in the compressed section to remove much heat)

Think about it (1)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15551770)

How do you think jet airliners provide a/c? They use bleed air from the turbine, that's how. If you take a very high pressure gas and allow it to expand very quickly it cools down a great deal. The same principle could be applied to cooling a data center. Why you would want to, well that's why I read the article. Only to be disappointed by the lack of real jet engines.

leaf blower? (1)

timelorde (7880) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548690)

From TFA:
"They literally blow you away," he says; "it's like picking up a leaf blower."

Great. As if I don't get enough of that sound when I'm trying to sleep in on weekends...


mkw87 (860289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548762)

Now, when people come over and my computer is humming along and they ask me "what the hell, do you have a jet engine in there?" I can look right at them with a smirk and say, "why yes, I do".

Jet Engines! (1)

d_54321 (446966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548789)

Use jet engines to cool servers?! Are you mad? Can you imagine how much this will ramp up global warming? Is it really worth it?... Yeah I guess so. Nevermind

Drat (2, Interesting)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548814)

For a moment I thought they were using actual jet engines [] to cool the server, but noooooo, they had to go for boring ol' electric fans instead.

[insert rant about misleading summary]

Ear plugs... (0, Troll)

jo42 (227475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548826)

I hope HP plans on supplying ear plugs to people buying machines with them thar fancy pants fans...


I blame marketing (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548846)

They couldn't hear the complaint that "your hardware sucks and blows at the same time" so they had to come up with something so they can just smile and nod.

Energy Waste (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548983)

What I don't get is this: Since there is all that heat coming off of processors, can the energy in that hot air be captured and put to good use? Seems all cooling solutions just "consume" more energy to transfer energy (in the form of heat) from here to there.

The net effect is we take a bunch of energy (as electricity) and lose a lot of it as heat then take a bunch more of it (again, electricity) to just move the other "lost" energy (heat) around. It just seems wasteful and expensive to me. There's got to be a better way; not that I could tell you what it is.

(note: I put quotes areound "consume" and "lost" because I understand the energy isn't really lost or consumed...but that's sort of what it's like and I'm at a loss for better wording.)

Re:Energy Waste (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549495)

Have you ever heard of actually *reading the article*? Wait, no, this is Slashdot...

Re:Energy Waste (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549619)

I'm a little taken aback by your response and want desperately to respond with ad hominems and name calling, etc. I'm trying to be better about those things though, so I'll refrain.

At any rate, yes, I read the article. Perhaps you didn't. There was no mention of anything whatsoever about recovering the energy from the heat transfer. Only mention of more efficient fans, water cooling, peltiers, etc. All things that amount to the same thing: using electricity to generate heat then using even more electricity to move that heat from A to B. Nothing whatsoever about doing anything useful with the energy that is "lost" to heat.

Re:Energy Waste (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550520)

Oh, crap. My apologies. I read your post as talking about waste heat from the "jet engines", not waste heat from the cpus themselves. I can only blame not enough coffee.

Where I live it's only hot for a few months of the year, so most of the time the waste heat from my own computers is used to keep *me* warm.

It does seem like it would make sense to be able to funnel the exhaust from the server rooms into the building HVAC systems somehow. Or team up with a greenhouse next door, or something.

Re:Energy Waste (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550795)

Oh, crap. My apologies. I read your post as talking about waste heat from the "jet engines", not waste heat from the cpus themselves. I can only blame not enough coffee.
No worries...I am definitely glad I refrained now.

Re:Energy Waste (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549947)

Its all about expense.

You could put a bunch of thermocouples, or rig up lengths of heatpipe to pipe several servers worth of heat into a single location. Do you realize the cost of this?

Keep in mind that low-level heat (anything under a few hundred degrees) isn't enough to generate enough useful energy to make this worthwhile. Perhaps if we can find some other way of power generation..however..

We could use the heat to maybe put some heat back into the HVAC system of a building in the wintertime..might save on a little power..

Re:Energy Waste (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550252)

We could use the heat to maybe put some heat back into the HVAC system of a building in the wintertime..might save on a little power.
That's the kind of thing I'm talking about, at least initially. I realize it isn't done now because it's more expensive than just paying for more electricity to, for all intents and purposes, blow the heat away. But piping the hot air into the heating ducts in the winter is a good start. As for water cooled systems, do they have to be closed loop? Why couldn't water cooling be done with cold water that comes into the building from the local municipality, is routed into the cooling system, then as it's heated and carries the heat away from the CPUs (et. al.) coming out the taps as hot water?

Again, I know this type of thing is not really feasible currently and not exactly economically viable. But the cost of energy just continues to rise. If somebody were researching and advancing these types of ideas (if not just the overall idea of how to recylce the heat loss) better (as in more efficient and less expensive) methods would result...and eventually (one would think) it could get to a mass production level where it then be very feasible and economically viable.

Why not? (1)

3waygeek (58990) | more than 8 years ago | (#15548984)

If a jet engine can cool a can of beer [] , why not a server?

A way to use a real jet engine (3, Funny)

necro81 (917438) | more than 8 years ago | (#15549378)

Since these ducted fan's aren't really jet engines, and certainly aren't what I had in mind when I saw the term "jet engine" in the headline (think very large and noisy!), here's a proposal for using a real, full-sized, jet engine for cooling your servers:

Take one jet engine,
Add stages to capture the thrust and transform it into more torque,
Connect output shaft to massive freakin' compressor turbine,
Use turbine to compress gaseous coolant back to a liquid,
Attach big large radiator/heat exchanger/water cooling tower

Viola! you now have many tonnes of refrigeration capacity, good for blowing cold air through your equipment room, or circulating liquid coolant directly to the chips.

The best part is, you get to have a jet engine tacked on to your server farm.

Doesn't make sense. (1)

j741 (788258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550029)

In the article it mentions that this will help reduce the need for improved air conditioning in the server room (or something like that), but I can't help but wonder how they expect to achieve efficient cooling if all you are doing is moving the same air arround. After all, any air cooling simply moves the heat from one place to another, so when the room's ambient temperature increases as a result of more rapid heat tranfer from the hotter and more dense collection of processors and other heat sources then you no loger have cool air intake for these advanced ducted fans to use.

Not only that but I think I will be investing in companies that make earplugs; Look out construction industry, the IT department's demand will bring your supply to it's knees :)

Joint Engine Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15550272)

I thought that using JET [] would create more heat, rather than reduce it.

The article's sidebar is rather revealing (1)

Mysteray (713473) | more than 8 years ago | (#15550862)

What You Missed
  • Revealing How Marijuana Affects the Brain
  • Lack of Human Eggs Could Hamper US Cloning Efforts
  • Logic from Chaos
  • Administration to Innovators: Database not Dollars
  • Better Mobile Web Browsing
  • A New Method of Getting Drugs into the Brain

Those editors sure have an interesting profile of their target readers!

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