Cooling startup rises from the ashes

Liquid cooling startup Iceotope has launched its first product and moved into new offices just a few months after the assets were bought back by the original founder.

The Sheffield company was bought by a venture capital-backed consortium including Peter Hopton, the original patent holder, at the end of last year for a seven figure sum and the first product was launched at CeBit in March. The company moved into new offices in the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham last week alongside Rolls Royce, Arrow Technical Services and Dornier Tools. Sheffield City is setting up an Enterprise zone alongside the park to encourage more high tech start-ups to move in.

With Iceotope servers, the processor cards are totally encapsulated in 3M’s Novec liquid, an inert and environmentally sound coolant, and all waste heat generated from the servers is used to passively pump the coolant through the system by encouraging a state of ultra-convection, removing the need for fans, chillers and airflow. 

“With the data centre industry growing by 12% each year, data centre providers are struggling to keep up with demand for higher efficiency and higher density, while keeping power consumption and costs to a minimum, said Hopton, now CTO of the new Iceotope. “Iceotope’s unique technology can help data centre providers to save half of all overall electricity costs compared to an average data centre.” 

The system can cool an entire 20kW rack with a pump consuming just 70W, whereas some air-cooled servers contain fans rated at 200W or more per shelf, says Hopton. The company worked with the University of Leeds on the thermal modelling of the liquid. 

“It is time that efforts were focused on the efficiency of internal cooling of information systems in data centres,” said Jon Summers, senior lecturer and researcher at the Institute of Thermofluids at Leeds University, who has been instrumental in the research into Iceotope’s new system. “Using air is an easy engineering option, but certainly not efficient. Therefore the use liquid encapsulation of the electronics in the Iceotope system offers an elegant engineering solution with a definite efficiency gain.”

 “According to IDC, approximately 40 percent of today’s data centre costs are power-related, however, by 2015, this figure will exceed 50 percent,” said Hopton. “In order to attempt to combat these escalating costs, many companies are looking to drastic measures to improve their cooling efficiency, such as moving their data centres to the Arctic Circle. Iceotope technology makes this move obsolete, as this unique liquid cooling technology allows full time free cooling everywhere on the globe. Liquid cooling has safely been used for decades in data centres, Iceotope offers the next generation in liquid cooling to server operators.”

Iceotope liquid cooled cabinets have a list price of £19,995, which includes hot swap redundant pump/heat exchangers and six Iceotope module centres ready to house a total of 48 modules. Server modules start from a list price of £3,995 for a fully configured server with two 6-core Intel Xeon ‘Romley’ E5 Processors, 64GB RAM, 40Gb Infiniband and high endurance SSD Storage.

Hopton is famous for pitching his green IT technologies on the TV programme Dragons’ Den. Despite being turned down by the Dragons when he pitched his company VeryPC, Hopton successfully secured investment for Iceotope – originally a VeryPC spin off – allowing him to take over as CTO of Iceotope while becoming the Executive Chairman at VeryPC.

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