Ku:l Data Center is a chassis-level liquid cooling system developed through close collaboration between Iceotope, Intel and HPE. (Image: Iceotope)
Immersion refrigeration specialist Iceotope Technologies Limited has closed a £30 million (approximately $35.7 million US) financing round from a global investment syndicate led by Singaporean private equity firm ABC Impact.
The global syndicate supporting Iceotope includes strategic investments from nVent – a leading global provider of electrical connection and security solutions – along with SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust, Northern Gritstone, British Patient Capital, Pavilion Capital and existing investor, Edinv.
“This significant investment, one of the largest recently invested in liquid cooling, is a testament to the great work our designers have done for our customers around the world,” said David Craig, CEO of Iceotope Technologies† “Given the global importance of the data center industry, which can only grow as edge facilities expand and expand into the far reaches of civilization, we look forward to accelerating our global implementation plan with the help of our new and existing investment partners. “
The news follows a similar announcement from immersion pioneer GRC (Green Revolution Cooling), which in March said it has secured a $28 million Series C investment led by SK Lubricants. Last year, bitcoin refrigeration specialist LiquidStack launched as a standalone company with $10 million in Series A financing from hyperscale hardware maker Wiwynn,
Taken together, the announcements illustrate growing investor confidence in the future of immersion cooling, which looks poised to move beyond its historic niches in high-performance computing (HPC) and cryptocurrency and gain greater adoption in traditional data centers.
“By increasing efficiency in their use of energy and water, data centers can contribute to global efforts to reduce carbon emissions,” Tan Shao Ming, Chief Investment Officer at ABC Impact. “We see tremendous potential to deploy this technology in Asia, especially in regions with tropical climates, and we look forward to working with Iceotope to increase its positive impact.”
Strategic investors boost immersion financing
Interest in liquid cooling has been fueled by the growth of artificial intelligence, which relies on powerful hardware that puts more computing power into each device, increasing power density – the amount of electricity used by servers and storage in a rack or cabinet – and the associated heat. This one rising power densities are challenging traditional data center cooling practices and driving data center operators to new strategies to support high-density racks.
But interest in advanced cooling is no longer just about density and “hot hardware,” according to the recent Data Center Frontier Roundtable Discussion from data center experts, citing a confluence of factors including sustainability and edge deployments.
“Factors influencing adoption include rack density, pressure to reduce energy consumption, space constraints, water usage constraints and demanding IT environments,” said Steven Carlini of Schneider Electric.
Strategic partners have played a role in recent investment rounds. A few examples:
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- As part of a strategic alliance with Iceotope, nVent will offer new modular integrated solutions for data centers, edge facilities and HPC applications. “Together, we have created sustainable, innovative cooling solutions that efficiently dissolve heat and prevent data center downtime,” said Joe Ruzynski, President of Enclosures at nVent† “Looking ahead, we have the opportunity to build on our success and drive the next phase of precision immersion cooling solutions in an exciting and growing space.”
- South Korea’s SK Lubricants, the main investor in GRC’s recent fundraising, specializes in motor oil and other oil-based lubricants and will collaborate with GRC to jointly develop liquid-immersion cooling systems for data centers in hopes of rapid standardization. and commercialization of single-phase immersion cooling systems.
- Cloud infrastructure provider Wiwynn provided $10 million in Series A financing for LiquidStack and brings deep experience working with hyperscale data center operators both directly and through the Open Compute Project. Wiwynn anticipates future growth of liquid cooling in cloud environments. “We envision the technology widely adopted in data centers with its unparalleled performance, reliability and environmental benefits,” said Emily Hong, CEO of Wiwynn.
Private equity firms and global funds have also played a key role. So far, most opportunities to invest in immersion cooling have been with private companies, with no major publicly traded companies available to present a ‘pure play’ investment in the sector.
Service providers prepare for future density
It’s not just the funding announcements that point to future immersion adoption. In recent months, we’ve seen three of the largest players in the global data center scene announce tests of liquid cooling with a view to expanding the availability of the technology in their data centers.
- In May, colocation and interconnection giant Equinix said it is operating liquid-cooled NVIDIA GPUs in the company Co-Innovation Facility (CIF) in Ashburn, Virginia. “This is the first liquid-cooled GPU introduced to our lab, which is exciting for us as our customers are hungry for sustainable ways to leverage AI,” said Zac Smith, Global Head of Edge Infrastructure Services at Equinix, the largest vendor of colocation and interconnection services, with 10,000 customers and 240 data centers around the world.
- Last month, NTT Data said it is using immersion cooling systems in one of its data centers in Japan “with the aim of realizing a low-carbon society.” The company said the energy used to cool the data center was reduced by up to 97% in the installation, which used an immersion cooling system from LiquidStack. NTT, the world’s third largest data center operator, said it will now build an engine room dedicated to immersion and develop the technology as a service.
- Last week, Macquarie Data Centers signed a multi-year deal with ResetData, an Australian provider that uses Submer immersion cooling technology. The partnership says Submer technology reduces the physical footprint of IT equipment by up to 90 percent and the heat generated by the infrastructure can be recycled 99 percent. worldwide,
Intel Steps Up Immersion Research and Collaboration
It is noteworthy that Intel is also sharpening its focus on liquid cooling. In May, the company said it was a proof-of-concept immersion cooling facility in Taiwan, saying Intel is “striving to simplify and accelerate the implementation of liquid cooling immersion solutions across the ecosystem globally.”
Intel also announced plans to invest more than $700 million in a 200,000-square-foot state-of-the-art research and development lab focused on innovative data center technologies, including liquid cooling.
Iceotope is one of the companies collaborating with Intel. Last month, Iceotope demonstrated its chassis-level cooling system, the Intel Booth, at HPE Discover 2022. The partnership between Iceotope, Intel and HPE promises “a faster path to net-zero operations by reducing edge and data center power consumption by nearly a third.”
Iceotope’s Precision Immersion Cooling system, known as Ku:1 Data Center, was compared to a traditional air-cooled system with a 19.6 kW load consisting of 16x HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen10 servers under stress test conditions. The tests showed that the immersion system allowed for a 4% performance improvement without throttling at higher server-level ambient temperatures and consumed 1 kW less energy at the rack level than its air-cooled counterpart. This represents a 5% energy savings in IT alone and a 30% savings at scale based on a typical cooling power consumption effectiveness (pPUE) of 1.4 in air and 1.04 in liquid cooled data centers.
The positioning of the product reinforces the growing focus on liquid cooling as a sustainable solution.
“The processing requirements for ubiquitous AI and powerful applications across the board are already creating a sustainability dilemma for operators,” said Iceotope Director of Product Strategy, Jason Matteson. “It is problematic to accommodate a massive increase in chip power while reducing carbon emissions in distributed edge sites and data centers. Iceotope’s Ku:l data center demonstrates a very practical response to an urgent need for a paradigm shift in data center design.”