QuantaCool's MHP (Microchannel Heat Pipe) Cooling Tech Demo
During NVIDIA GTC 2015, we had an opportunity to head over to SEMI-THERM 31 to see QuantaCool's MHP (Microchannel Heat Pipe) cooling technology demo they had setup. QuantaCool displayed several different types of setups at this event that you can see in the news release, QuantaCool displays its cooling systems at SEMI-THERM 31.
QuantaCool is a startup company which has developed a patented MHP (Microchannel Heat Pipe) technology that is used to passively transfer heat from a heat source to a cooling medium. As they summarize it, "Passive 2-phase cooling - no pumps, and no water". They have demonstrated these systems on workstations, servers and blade systems using this cooling method. Markets that QuantaCool targets include datacenters, HPC and enthusiasts, solar power, lasers, and even cooling and storage of spent nuclear fuel.
The unique features of QuantaCool's MHP technology is a patented improved heat pipe, featuring a microchannel or CPU heat block, an inert refrigerant so there is no danger of leaks shorting out any electronic components inside the server, and finally no pumps are used. Coolant circulation is driven by the heat being removed and uses gravity-return (works like a percolator) - it is completely passive, with no moving parts. Here we have Steven Schon, Chief Technology Officer from QuantaCool, showing a demonstration of how the cooling solution works:
Here we see the workstation cooling setup that QuantaCool had on display. The demo that was running based on a workstation equipped with an Intel Core i7 4790K @ 4.6GHz, which had been running for the entire length of the show without any issues. We were told this system was running a 6-core 3970X for nine weeks before the show using AIDA64 Stress Test.
QuantaCool's MHP cooling system is gravity driven which makes it ideal for rackmounted servers. In this example, the condenser (radiator) would be mounted at the top of a server rack (or even on the roof) with the servers below connected through manifolds. The principle of a gravity driven cooling solution and the MHP technology means that a radiator placed higher than the computer would have a greater cooling effect. In this arrangement, a larger radiator can be installed to provide even greater cooling capacity. One radiator would handle the heat from multiple servers.
This diagram above shows how a rack full of servers might be setup to use this cooling system. The condenser or radiator can be placed in just about any location, even outside the building. The servers could connect to the manifolds by push-in dripless quick-connects build in to the server chassis and manifolds, requiring no plumbing skills or refrigerant technician certification to service the units.
This picture above shows a blade setup that has been running stress tests for months now. All blades connect to a manifold and then to a common reservoir, and are finally routed to an air-cooled condenser mounted at the top of the rack. Note that this demonstration system was retrofitted to off-the-shelf blades, which is why they have the tubing connections and valves. In units specifically designed for MHP using on-board quick-connects and in-rack manifolds, the tubing is not needed.
This is how a typical blade server might be setup to use QuantaCool's MHP system; the CPU heat sinks (Microchannel heat exchanger under the black cover with the oval cut-out, the OEM air cooler is the copper structure on the CPU above it) are very narrow allowing them to be installed in typical server blades. Copper or plastic tubing can be routed inside the server blade itself, depending on CPU locations, and with connections on the back of the chassis. Each blade can then be connected with quick disconnects to the rest of the system. This allows for easy removal of the server blade if upgrades or maintenance is required.
The last type of system that we saw was a fully self-contained system that fit inside a 4U server case. The drawback to this type of setup is that it requires a pump to keep the cooling fluid moving through the system. This does work very well also and is useful for applications that cannot house the radiator outside of the main system, such as co-located facilities.
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