GIGABYTE Technology has built a “two-phase immersion cooling solution” for one of Taiwan’s foremost semiconductor giants, to be used in its sustainable, future-proof “green HPC data centers”. Not only does the solution boost the performance of HPC processors by over 10%—which is crucial for the nanometer process technology used in IC foundries—it also reduces data center power consumption by 30% and lowers PUE below 1.08, which turns it into a role model of green computing that may be replicated in data centers around the world. This exemplary project demonstrates how GIGABYTE can support its clients’ CSR, ESG, and SDGs-related initiatives, and how GIGABYTE is working tirelessly to “Upgrade Your Life” with high tech while protecting our environment.
One of the most important changes to sweep over the world is the international community’s determination to combat climate change and achieve carbon neutrality. This is proven by the 2015 Paris Agreement and the Glasgow Climate Pact in 2021.
The new epoch of environmental consciousness is having a profound effect on the way companies do business: from the way they invest in new technology, to the way they develop products and services, to how they approach the market. Failure to demonstrate the company’s commitment to CSR (corporate social responsibility), ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance), and SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) will not go unnoticed by consumers and investors—and even less so by government regulators and lawmakers, who are beholden to the public.
As one analyst has so succinctly put it: “Every enterprise is on the pathway to carbon neutrality, whether they have decided this for themselves or not.”
One exemplary industry leader that has demonstrated remarkable initiative in achieving carbon neutrality is the prominent IC foundry giant that leads the world in advanced process technology. This titan of the industry utilizes high performance computing (HPC) to manufacture semiconductor chips on the nanometer scale with a high degree of precision and excellent yield. At the same time, the IC foundry giant adheres to the ESG vision of uplifting our society through the reduction of carbon emissions, the fulfillment of its climate pledge, and the achievement of “net zero”. Therefore, the industry leader has devoted considerable resources to finding a way to expand its data centers’ HPC capabilities in a sustainable and eco-friendly way.
In October of 2020, the IC foundry giant reached out to GIGABYTE Technology and other industry leaders to build a “two-phase immersion cooling data center”. This revolutionary new solution will incorporate a type of data center cooling technology known as “two-phase immersion cooling” to improve chip computing performance and reduce power consumption. Not only will this be beneficial to the state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing process, it will also help the IC foundry giant usher in a new era of “green HPC data centers,” with the end goal being to reduce 400 million KW-HR per year starting from 2030.
Benefit #1: Eco-Friendly Solution Reduces Power Consumption by Up to 30% and Lowers PUE Below 1.08
In the IC foundry giant’s semiconductor fabrication plant (commonly called a fab or foundry) in Hsinchu, Taiwan, GIGABYTE Technology worked with other industry leaders—including the power and thermal management solutions provider Delta Electronics, the networking and communications expert Accton Technology, and the American conglomerate 3M—to build the “two-phase immersion cooling solution”.
The two-phase immersion cooling solution relies on the natural evaporation and condensation of its dielectric coolant, which has a low boiling point of 50°C, to transfer heat from the electronic components to the condenser at the top of the tank. This is a superbly energy-efficient system that reduces power consumption and lowers PUE.
From the outside, the solution looks like a large white metal cabinet, measuring 1.8 meters wide, 1.1 m. deep, and 2.5 m. high. Two gloveboxes occupy the upper half of the cabinet. The lower half is where the magic happens: 96 custom-made server motherboards provided by GIGABYTE are installed in a sealed tank filled partially with dielectric, nonconductive liquid coolant. The coolant bath chills the electronic components directly, which is a remarkable advancement compared to conventional air-cooling or direct-to-chip (D2C) liquid cooling.
Two-phase immersion cooling is different from single-phase immersion cooling in one distinctive way. In the single-phase system, warm coolant is cycled out to a coolant distribution unit (CDU) to remove the heat via a cooling tower, a dry cooler, or a chiller. The two-phase system achieves the same effect through a recurring cycle of vaporization and condensation within the same sealed tank. Because the coolant that is used has an ultra-low boiling point of just 50°C, heat from the servers will naturally cause the coolant to evaporate and transfer heat out of the bath. The vapors are then chilled by a lid or coil condenser at the top of the tank, allowing the condensation to flow back into the coolant bath to restart the cycle.
The IC foundry giant is able to reduce the data center’s total power consumption by up to 30% and lower PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) from 1.35 to below 1.08 by adopting two-phase immersion cooling in its green HPC data center. Since a lower PUE denotes greater energy-efficiency, this is a major stride forward. Overall, the two-phase immersion cooling solution has a high cooling capacity of 100KW, which is recommended for the powerful processors which are used in HPC.《Glossary: What is PUE?》
The IC foundry giant has achieved a breakthrough in more ways than one. On the one hand, adopting more energy-efficient cooling solutions will go a long way toward future-proofing the semiconductor manufacturing process and making it less susceptible to power outages or brownouts. On the other hand, green computing has become increasingly important as the world gets hotter and carbon emissions become more heavily taxed. Building eco-friendly green HPC data centers with smaller carbon footprints may help the IC foundry giant fulfill SDGs number 7 (“ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”) and number 9 (“build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”), as outlined by the United Nations.
According to a statement released by the IC foundry giant, it is working proactively to make the two-phase immersion cooling solution an industrial standard, so that it may be promoted to and utilized by other companies in the supply chain to help achieve greater sustainability in the future.
Benefit #2: Highly Dense Configuration of HPC Processors Gets 10% Boost in Computing Performance
The second major advantage of using two-phase immersion cooling is how it enables processors to perform at peak capacity. The reason is as follows: in a standard air-cooled data center or server room, the set point—which is the room’s baseline temperature—is kept at around 30°C to 35°C, and CPU performance is “throttled” at about 80%, to keep the chips from overheating. Because immersion cooling is more effective at removing heat very quickly, it is possible to let both the ambient temperature go up and the CPU performance cap out, resulting in chip computing performance being improved by 10% or more. It goes without saying that getting better performance out of the green HPC data center is hugely beneficial for the IC foundry giant.《Glossary: What is Server Room?》
The 96 GIGABYTE server motherboards installed in the two-phase immersion cooling solution run on AMD EPYC™ processors. Because immersion cooling is more effective at removing heat, the CPUs can operate at maximum capacity, resulting in a performance boost of over 10%.
The 96 GIGABYTE server motherboards installed in the two-phase immersion cooling solution run on AMD EPYC™ processors, which offer impressive core and thread counts that are ideally suited for HPC-related tasks. Such a large number of nodes, even if they were installed in GIGABYTE’s industry-leading H-Series High Density Servers (such as the H262-Z6A, which packs four nodes in a 2U form factor), would take up at least 48 rack units of space—and that is not considering the networking hardware that supports the computing and storage nodes in a data center. Not only does two-phase immersion cooling make a highly dense configuration of server components possible, it also removes unnecessary air-cooling components, such as fans, heatsinks, and heat shrouds from the server design. This helps to free up more space, reduce the chances of equipment failure, and eliminates temperature variations and component degradation that may result from the vibration of the moving parts.
In the first quarter of 2022, the IC foundry giant officially unveiled its two-phase immersion cooling solution to the public. The GIGABYTE team was there every step of the way to ensure the industry leader’s groundbreaking vision came to fruition. The IC foundry giant has commended GIGABYTE for its industry-leading research and development capabilities, its fast response time when responding to customer queries, and its ability to effectively put plans into action.
The expert knowledge gained by GIGABYTE through the process will be beneficial for future applications in other industries, such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, edge computing, FinTech, and machine learning—basically, any sector that must contend with the thermal management dilemma posed by increasingly powerful CPUs and GPUs that generate more and more heat.
GIGABYTE Technology is glad to contribute to the semiconductor industry and protect our environment by designing and building the eco-friendly and future-proof HPC data center that incorporates two-phase immersion cooling. It is hoped that, since Taiwan is an exemplary tech hub and the world leader in semiconductor production, the solution selected by the IC foundry giant may become the role model that the global supply chain emulates. The continuous effort to help enterprises make headway toward carbon neutrality, as well as fulfill their CSR, ESG, and SDGs-related commitments, is in keeping with GIGABYTE’s corporate vision: “Upgrade Your Life” with innovative high tech solutions that will deliver better business results while building a greener, more sustainable world of tomorrow.