Nvidia switches to liquid cooling to reduce big tech’s energy use

Nvidia has announced its new plan to reduce power usage in data centers that process massive amounts of data or train AI models: liquid-cooled graphics cards. company Advertise on Computex They offer a liquid-cooled version of Her credit card is A100It says it uses 30 percent less energy than the air-cooled version. Nvidia also pledges that this isn’t just a one-off, but that it’s already got more liquid-cooled server cards on its roadmap, and hints at bringing the technology to other applications such as in-vehicle systems that need to keep indoor cool. Of course, Tesla’s latest recall of overheating chips appears How complicated can that beeven with liquid cooling.

According to Nvidia, reducing the power needed to perform complex calculations could have a significant impact — the company says data centers use more than one percent of the world’s electricity, and 40 percent of that is due to cooling. Reducing that by about a third would be a big deal, although it’s worth noting that graphics cards are only one part of the equation; CPUs, storage, and networking equipment also draw power and also need cooling. Nvidia claims that with liquid cooling, GPU acceleration systems will be much more efficient than CPU-only servers on AI and other high-performance tasks.

Nvidia’s roadmap for liquid-cooled devices and cards.
Photo: Nvidia

There is a common reason for liquid cooling in high performance use cases, from supercomputers to Gaming PCs And even in a Little phones: liquids absorb heat better than air, According to Asetek, a major manufacturer of water cooling systems. Once you have a warm liquid, it’s relatively easy to move it elsewhere to cool off, compared to trying to cool the air in an entire building or increase airflow to the specific components on the card that dumps all the heat.

Besides energy efficiency, liquid-cooled cards have another bonus over their air-cooled counterparts – they take up significantly less space, meaning you can fit more of them in the same space.

Nvidia’s push to reduce energy use via liquid cooling comes at a time when many companies are considering the amounts of energy their servers use. While data centers Far from the only source from carbon emissions And pollution for big technology, they are part of the puzzle that cannot be ignored, and critics have noted this balancing energy use Through credits is not quite the same effect as reducing consumption. I tried companies like Microsoft Completely submerge the servers in liquid even Putting entire data centers in the ocean Trying to use less energy and water.

Of course, these solutions are kinda weird – while Nvidia’s liquid cooling type isn’t necessarily the standard for data centers, it’s not as present as putting your servers in the ocean (although Microsoft’s experiences with that have been so far) shockingly successful). Nvidia explicitly markets liquid-cooled GPUs as “master” servers, rather than as a high-end solution.

This really raises the question of whether we can see Nvidia trying to take liquid cooling even more prevail by building liquid cooling into the reference designs of its gaming-focused cards. The company didn’t mention any plans to do so, saying only that it plans to “support liquid cooling in high-performance data center GPUs” for the “foreseeable future”.

However, server technology is pouring into home computer technology all the time, and game cards that come straight from the factory with an all-in-one liquid cooler aren’t exactly unheard of — AMD has been Few of reference designs who – which Included a liquid cooling ringand third parties Nvidia Liquid-Cooled Cards Sold Before. As Nvidia cards continue to attract more and more power (a stock 3090 Ti . can Draw up to 450 watts), I wouldn’t be surprised if Nvidia announced an RTX 5000-series card that came with a liquid cooler.

For Nvida’s data center-focused cards, the company says companies like ASRock, Asus, and Supermicro will integrate liquid-cooled cards into their servers “later this year,” and PCIe A100 slot cards are coming in the third quarter of this year. PCIe liquid-cooled version of H100 Card Recently Announced (which is the next generation version of the A100) scheduled for “early 2023”.

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