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Nvidia Uses Liquid Cooling GPUs To Cut Down On Tech Energy Use

According to Nvidia, reducing the energy required to do complex computations might impact substantially.

Nvidia Uses Liquid Cooling GPUs To Cut Down On Tech Energy Use

It promises a 30% reduction in energy use. Nvidia’s latest solution to reducing data center energy demand is liquid-cooled GPUs. At Computex, the company launched a liquid-cooled version of their A100 compute card, which uses 30% less power. Nvidia promises future liquid-cooled server cards and hints at leveraging the technology in in-car systems that need to keep cool. Tesla’s recent chip recall shows how difficult this is, even with liquid cooling.

Data centres utilise over 1% of global electricity, with cooling accounting for 40%. CPUs, storage, and networking equipment also consume electricity and need cooling. According to Nvidia, reducing the energy required to do complex computations might substantially impact. Nvidia says GPU-accelerated servers are better for AI and other high-performance tasks than CPU-only servers.

According to Asetek, a leading maker of water cooling systems, liquids absorb heat better than air, which is why it is popular in high-performance use cases like supercomputers, gaming PCs, and even some phones. Unlike trying to cool a whole building or enhance airflow to hot components on a card, it is easier to carry heated liquid elsewhere to cool.

Liquid-cooled cards are more energy-efficient and take up less space than air-cooled cards so that you can fit more in the same area.

Nvidia’s effort to lower energy use through liquid cooling comes as organisations scrutinise server energy use. While data centres are not the primary source of carbon emissions and pollution for big tech, they are a significant part that cannot be disregarded. Critics have noted that using credits to offset energy use is not as effective as decreasing consumption. Microsoft buried servers in liquid and built data centres in the ocean to conserve electricity and water.

Nvidia’s liquid cooling is not the norm for data centres, but it is not as extreme as throwing servers in the ocean (though Microsoft’s tests have been successful so far). Nvidia’s liquid-cooled GPUs are for “mainstream” servers, not high-end ones.

This raises the potential that Nvidia will include liquid cooling in its gaming-oriented GPUs. The company wants to “allow liquid cooling in our high-performance data centre GPUs” in the “foreseeable future.”

Gaming cards with an all-in-one liquid cooler are not unheard of. AMD has had a few reference designs with a liquid-cooling loop, and third parties have marketed liquid-cooled Nvidia cards. As Nvidia’s cards consume more power, I wouldn’t be surprised if they came with a liquid cooler (a stock 3090 Ti may take up to 450 watts).

ASRock, Asus, and Supermicro will incorporate liquid-cooled cards in their servers “later this year,” while slot-in PCIe A100 cards will be available in Q3. In “early 2023,” the company will offer a liquid-cooled PCIe H100 card (the next-gen version of the A100).

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