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IBM's Cool Blue: Chillin' the Data Center

IBM on Tuesday unveiled a new take on an old problem: reducing the heat generated by IT equipment in the data center. Big Blue reckons that customers using its new "Cool Blue" device can cut up to $9,200 a year, per server rack, in energy costs.

Fitting onto the rear door of IBM server racks, the device taps into the chilled water supply circulating in companies' air conditioning systems, said Alex Yost, director of product management.

Mark Teter, CTO of Denver-based Advanced Systems Group, said the increasing deployment of blade servers and fiber optics have aggravated the longtime problem of too much heat. "Merely moving air around the data center is not helpful," he said. "This should help alleviate the hot spots."

Cool Blue could achieve significant cost savings, said Yost. A rack with 80 servers can produce about 80,000 BTUs of heat per hour, he said. At 7 cents per kW hour, that rack might cost $20,000 per year to cool. Cool Blue can remove about 55 percent of the heat generated by the rack, saving about $9,200 per rack per year.

Available now, Cool Blue works only with IBM's own racks, including those designed for the company's Cluster 1350 architecture. Prices start at $4,299.