New liquid cools hot gaming PCs; servers tapped next

Hardcore Computer Inc. has developed a new liquid to cool the components in the monstrous PCs it created for gamers, and the company hopes the coolant will attract the interest of other IT vendors that grapple with heat, such as server makers.

PC parts, especially chips, give off a lot of heat while they're running, and companies have come up with dozens of ways to cool systems over the years, including fans, heat sinks, liquid coolants and more. Yet heat continues to have the upper hand. At server farms, for example, companies often spend more money on electricity for air conditioning and other cooling systems than on the servers themselves.

Hardcore Computer developed the new cooling liquid, which it calls Core Coolant, out of a waste product from petroleum. Core Coolant is noncombustible and nonconductive and is safe enough to drink, according to Chad Attlesey, the company's chief technology officer, in an interview at the Storage Visions conference in Las Vegas.

He said he has actually had to drink it in demonstrations in the past, and he agreed to do so for the IDG News Service, but he said it tastes like castor oil.

Looking at the Reactor Extreme -- the gaming PC the liquid is designed to cool -- it's clear why the company needed something radical to control heat.

The Reactor Extreme comes with an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 microprocessor, which runs at 3 GHz and has four processing cores, three Nvidia GeForce GTX 280s graphics cards and 4GB of RAM and requires two 650-watt power supplies. It's the hottest and, at $6,462, the most expensive computer in the Reactor family; it's a nightmare to cool.

To keep the computer cool while it's running at full speed, Hardcore Computer immersed the Reactor Extreme's motherboard, including the microprocessors and other chips, in 4.5 gallons of Core Coolant. That's the wet side of the PC, and it's protected by a clear plastic casing made from the same material used in visors worn by astronauts in outer space.

A radiator designed for the Reactor Extreme sits behind the motherboard on the dry side of the PC.

Attlesey said the coolant is being considered for use in a few enterprise systems, and the company hopes to find more customers in the server market.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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