Evaluating Heat Sink Performance In An Immersion-cooled Server System
Mcwilliams, Trevor Dean
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As operating power within server systems continues to increase in support of increased data usage across networks worldwide, it is necessary to explore options outside of traditional air-cooled systems. In this study, a specific server will be immersed and cooled using circulated mineral oil. The challenges associated with an emerging cooling technology are numerous. Trying to adapt existing air-cooled systems into oil-cooled systems has its difficulties. The viscous properties of oil make it resistive to traveling through the narrow fins of a conventional heat sink, and thermal mixing is not easy to achieve as it is in air due to more established laminar boundary layers that are prevalent in oil. Also, the simple fact that oil must come from a reservoir and air is readily available from the environment makes it difficult to justify its use. Despite all these facts, oil's relatively high heat capacity may make these changes justifiable. This experiment varied the flow rate, inlet temperature, server power level, and height of the heat sink in a specific server in an effort to find out how efficient oil cooling can be. The results of these test iterations showed that immersion cooling is effective to the extent that the heat sink profiles within these servers can be substantially reduced allowing greater power densities and space savings. In certain circumstances, the heat sinks themselves may not be necessary at all in immersion-cooled systems.