When I hear "wetware," I think of futuristic, cybernetic implants that connect our brains to the Internet, version 10.0, but IBM is using the term to refer to a new form of liquid cooling and energy transportation.


The new technology emulates the brain's energy transportation (the quintessential wetware model). Capillaries in the brain cool and power our neurons. IBM researchers are attempting to copy that same architecture to reduce the estimated 60% of computer volume dedicated to electricity and heat exchange in modern computers. In the process, computers could become smaller, more powerful, and more energy efficient.



The cost of technology


An increasing concern in the Tech sector - especially for those businesses running server farms, super computers, and data centers - is the cost of running the computers. The cost of purchasing the computers may begin to factor less into the purchasing decision as energy, cooling, and location costs increase. With this new technology IBM will be able to build smaller, more energy efficient computers because chip components can be stacked in a kind of electronic blood that is both battery and coolant. Because the chip components can be stacked, there is less distance for signals to travel, further reducing heat production that the electronic blood will transport away. Without the need for airflow between components, noisy fans can be removed and the computer case can be much smaller. Reducing the size of the cases and the amount of heat produced will significantly reduce the cost of running the computers.



The first steps


The first iteration from IBM uses the traditional approach of water to cool the computer chips. However, IBM's experimental Aquasar installation in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) will use the heat from the cooling system in the heating system of the ETH building.


The second step of this technology is to get energy to the components using a liquid medium IBM researchers are looking at vanadium as a potential key component in this step.




Hopefully IBM succeeds in making the beginnings of a cybernetic brain. While I do enjoy hanging out in the server room to warm up, I'm sure the money that's going into cooling that room could be better spent. Regardless of the future of computing coolant systems, we will still have to monitor the internal temperatures of our servers using tools like SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor.