DOE to Fund $42 Million for HPC Cooling Systems

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Energy today announced up to $42 million in funding for “high-performance, energy-efficient cooling solutions for data centers.” To learn more about the COOLERCHIPS funding opportunity and how to apply, visit: ARPA-E EXCHANGE.

Knowing that cooling accounts for up to 40% of data center energy consumption, DOE’s Agency for Advanced Research Projects-Energy (ARPA-E) will fund projects to reduce energy consumption and the operational carbon footprint of the data center. Data centers today consume 2% of total electricity consumption, but this number continues to increase. The overall IT business — with a boost from the HPC and hyperscale segments — is moving up the list of industries ranked by power consumption. According to ITProPortal, the energy consumption of the data center should skip 50 percent by 2030.

Water cooling plumbing system for the exascale Frontier supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Liquid cooling, which over the past decade has been widely accepted by the HPC industry, is certainly part of this effort. The current step. 1 supercomputer in the world, the HPE-builds the exascale Frontier system to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is cooled by water pumped through a gigantic plumbing system under the computer floor at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility. Most major HPC system manufacturers have adopted liquid cooling, including Lenovowhich reports that Lenovo Neptune hot water cooling eliminates 90% of the heat generated by its servers used in HPC clusters, and that its ThinkSystem SD650-N V2 server reduces cooling costs by up to 30-40%.

The COOLERCHIPS (Cooling Operations Optimized for Leaps in Power, Reliability, and Carbon Hyperefficiency for Information Processing Systems) funding program from ARPA-E aims to develop highly efficient and that will enable a new class of computing systems, data centers and modular systems. The program will prioritize four technical categories for cooling system innovation opportunities:

  • Energy-efficient cooling solutions for next-generation high-power-density servers
  • High power density modular data centers that can be operated anywhere efficiently
  • Development of software and modeling tools to simultaneously design and optimize energy consumption, CO2 footprint, reliability and cost of data centers
  • Facilities and best practices for effective evaluation and demonstration of transformational technologies developed under the program.

The DOE said the funding would support President Biden’s goals of achieving net zero carbon emissions across the economy by 2050 at the latest.

“Extreme weather events, such as the spike in temperatures that much of the country has experienced this summer, also impact data centers that connect critical IT and network infrastructure and must be kept at certain temperatures to remain operational. “said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Creating solutions to efficiently cool data centers and reduce associated carbon emissions supports the technological breakthroughs needed to combat climate change and secure our clean energy future.”