SAN JOSE, Calif. – Phil Hughes claims he can pack 200 KW of electronics—maybe more--into a single server rack. A top tier OEM and a government lab are now kicking the tires on the cooling technology of his startup, Clustered Systems Co. (Santa Clara, Calif.).
Originally Hughes planned to build a supercomputer around a new mesh networking technology he helped develop. But he and his investors discovered their approach to cooling the system was even more valuable than the supercomputer design itself.
Clustered Systems uses sealed cold plates filed with R134a, the same stuff used in car air conditioning systems. The cold plates sit next to heat risers, blocks of aluminum that channel heat from the electronics.
The heat boils the refrigerant sending gas and a little remaining liquid off to an external heat exchanger. Outside the server box, cold water or ambient cool air makes the refrigerant condense back to a liquid that cycles back to the server plate.
Hughes has developed two versions of the plate. One lies horizontally on top of a rack-mounted server (above), the other stands vertically between server blades.