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Immersion-cooled colo is coming to Ohio... via a crypto-mining datacenter

LiquidStack CEO says we're in a perfect storm for the growth of two-phase immersion cooling

A datacenter being built in Ohio will reportedly be the first in the US to deploy two-phase immersion cooling – but only a portion of the facility will be used for HPC colocation with rest used to mine cryptocurrency.

The facility is being built by Standard Power, with liquid cooling company LiquidStack supplying the hardware in the form of 24 of its DataTank 48U units, with an intent to install a total of 96 48Us later on. The DataTank 48U has 28 times the heat rejection capacity of an air-cooled system, and a 41 percent reduction in energy consumption versus air cooling, LiquidStack said.

Scheduled to be finished in the next two years, the facility will be located in Coshocton, Ohio, which sits between Columbus and Akron. In total the new datacenter will be able to scale up to 52 MW, 12 of which will be liquid cooled by LiquidStack's systems, while the remaining 40 MW of capacity will be air cooled. 

Liquid cooling may only account for a portion of the new datacenter's capacity, but the facility is taking extra steps to ensure it remains as low-impact as possible, the companies said. All the power for the datacenter will come from renewables, LiquidStack CEO Joe Capes told us.

Capes added that heat rejection from air-cooled systems will be run through river water that's pulled in, heated, and dumped back in the river to minimize its impact. The CEO told us 40 MW will be used to mine cryptocurrency, and the rest on high-performance computing colocation.

It's unsurprising that LiquidStack is involved in the crypto mining game: it started in 2012 as a Bitcoin mining operation in Hong Kong, before moving to focus on building out the two-phase immersion cooling systems it developed with 3M to cool mining rigs. The midwestern US, with renewable resources like hydroelectricity and wind, is a natural place to relocate crypto mining after crackdowns in countries like China, Capes said. 

"Mining datacenters actually use a much higher percentage of renewable energy," Capes said. "What's unique about this project is that it's a mixed-use, allowing Standard Power to gain market share in the mining segment, but also in the HPC colocation segment." 

Capes said immersion datacenter cooling is about to take off. Denser chips are everywhere, and those chips are hard to cool. Couple that with rising concerns over climate change and sustainability, and Capes said you have the perfect storm for growth.

"Investment in liquid cooling started around 2017, so like most new technologies it takes five to seven years to come to the forefront. So we're expecting to see large hyper­scale data centers built using immersion cooling as soon as next year," Capes said. 

LiquidStack has plans for additional two-phase immersion cooled colocation data centers that Capes said the company hopes to announce throughout 2022. ®

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