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IBM Chills Out

Cooling may not be the sexiest data center technology, but it is undoubtedly one of the most crucial. This week, after three years in the development lab, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) unveiled new technology to tackle the data center heat wave (see IBM Unveils Cool Blue).

IBM's given it a grand handle: the eServer Rear Door Heat eXchanger, code-named Cool Blue.” It's a cooling system that fits onto the back of a standard server rack. Unlike traditional cooling technologies, which use fans to disperse heat, Cool Blue uses sealed tubes containing chilled water to cool the rack. As this water is pumped through the tubes, heat is taken away from the servers.

Heat is a major headache for data center managers, particularly with the advent of ultra-dense technologies such as blade servers (see Data Center Heat Wave and The Heat Is On).

Quite simply, as servers become more compact, they are producing more heat than ever before. This problem is compounded as computer rooms get packed to the rafters with a plethora of kit, from servers to routers and switches. IT managers are left with two big problems – their servers are turning into weapons of mass dissipation, and there is also less space available to rechannel all that hot air.

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT Research, says heat's a big deal. “Over time, the heat emissions of servers have outstripped the ability of data centers to keep up with them,” he says.

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