Blood in the racks

IMG_4537Read an ArsTechnica UK article the other day (IBM is trying to solve all of computing’s scaling issues with 5D electronic blood) about IBM Research in Zurich working on supplying electricity and cooling to their super computer servers using a form of electronic blood. What this has to do with 5D is another question entirely.

Why blood?

As we all know mammalian blood provides both cooling and nutrients to organisms within an animal. IBM’s electronic blood would be used to provide thermal cooling to their server circuitry as well as electronic energy to those same circuits.

One of the problems with todays chips is that with more components being added each year, their heat density (W/mm**2) is going up significantly. But the power feeds are also increasing as components counts go up. All of this is leading to a serious problems in trying to cool and power ever denser chips. The article says that for Intel’s recent Ivy Bridge chips, a majority of its 1155 pins are for power delivery and its heat density is ~0.5W/mm**2.

IBM research takes a radical turn

IBM has been working with micro fluidic pathways in their chips to supply cooling to the areas of the chips that need it the most. But by adding electronic charges to these cooling fluids they hope to be able to  power their chips as well as cool them with the same mechanism.

Electronic charges are carried in soluble oxygen-reduction (redox) particles that can be oxidized to supply electricity and then reduced for recharge. IBM R&D have shown that their electronic blood charge-discharge cycle can be up to 80% efficient using 1V power.

Not sure I understand why they call in 5D but maybe if you read the IBM research paper (requires paymen) there would be a better explanation. The ArsTechnica paper takes a shot but other than cooling being the 4th dimension and power the 5th dimension, I’m not sure what the other 3 are used for.


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