The very first bitcoin purchase was made in 2010, when programmer Laszlo Hanyecz spent 10,000 bitcoins on two pizzas. In the years that have followed, the value of the cryptocurrency has soared, meaning that if Hanyecz had hung on to those bitcoins, they would now be worth around US $260m.
The rise in the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has made many investors very rich indeed, and it is also good news for another group of people: those who carry out so-called ‘crypto mining’. This is the process by which new coins are generated and transactions are verified on a blockchain. Essentially it is done by solving extremely complicated maths problems on high-powered computers. The first ‘miner’ to get a correct answer receives a predetermined amount of the cryptocurrency.
Crypto mining requires massive processing power that consumes equally massive amounts of energy. The circuits also create a lot of heat, and thus even more energy is needed in order to cool them.
Because what they do is so energy-intensive, crypto miners tend to be concentrated in places where electricity is cheap, such as the US, which holds the lion’s share of the world’s crypto mining market. And within the US, mining tends to be centred not just in states where energy prices are low, but in the areas within those states where they are lowest.
This is certainly the case in Texas, one of the most popular states for crypto mining, where the electricity market is deregulated and prices can vary considerably from town to town. Which is why one crypto mining company has found itself in fairly remote part of the state. But while it is able to enjoy low energy prices at this site, it faces a challenge: water is not in plentiful supply. Therefore a cooling system was required for its data centre that would not only consume minimum energy but also use as little water as possible.
As is now common in the crypto mining space, an immersion cooling system was installed at the data centre to maintain the temperature of the servers, which function at full capacity all year round. They are submerged in tanks of a non-conductive fluid, which is pumped to an intermediate heat exchanger cooled by water. This removes the need for power-hungry, fan-driven air cooling for the servers.
But what about saving water? This is where Güntner cooling technology comes in.
“BECAUSE THERE IS LIMITED WATER AVAILABLE ON SITE, EVAPORATIVE COOLING WAS IMPRACTICAL, IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE. AN ADIABATIC SYSTEM ALLOWED THE FACILITY TO OPERATE AT PEAK EFFICIENCY WITHOUT RELYING ON WATER YEAR ROUND.”
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER -DATA CENTERS, GÜNTNER
The server cooling solution was engineered by Midas Immersion Cooling, who are experts in the immersion cooling field and reached out to Güntner for the necessary heat rejection equipment. Güntner was able to model the performance of its proposed cooling system and estimate water and energy consumption, and as a result it supplied several dozen V-shape VARIO Dry Coolers with hydroBLUTM.
The hydroBLUTM adiabatic pre-cooling humidification pad system allows a cooling system to run at maximum efficiency, only using water when the ambient temperature rises above a pre-defined level. The pads are wetted via Güntner’s intelligent control system, which continuously monitors the amount of water applied, fan speed and ambient air temperature.
This proved the ideal solution, allowing the data centre to meet its heat rejection needs while also managing utility resources. While immersion cooled servers are currently primarily used in the crypto mining space, their use is poised to expand into more general purpose enterprise centres, and the success of this project demonstrates their efficiency and simplicity compared with traditional air-cooled data halls.
“WE CHOSE GÜNTNER DUE TO THE QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THEIR PRODUCTS. WE CAN COMMISSION A GÜNTNER DRY COOLER IN JUST A COUPLE OF MINUTES, AND THEY COME PRE-PROGRAMMED TO THE POINT WHERE WE ONLY NEED TO SELECT THE TARGET TEMPERATURE.”
VP OF ENGINEERING, MIDAS IMMERSION COOLING