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ECOphlex (PHase-change Liquid EXchange)

What is ECOPhlex?

ECOphlex (PHase-change Liquid EXchange) is an efficient and environmentally-friendly computer component cooling technology.

Cray, the supercomputer company, developed ECOphlex. According to the company's Web site, ECOphlex will enable multi-petaflop high-performance computing (HPC) systems that are more energy-efficient than has ever been possible before. ECOphlex uses one of two different techniques: a vertical air cooling system or a liquid evaporative variation on phase-change cooling.  Phase-change cooling uses the same principles as cooling systems in conventional refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners. The phase-change coils used for ECOphlex are said to be 10 times as efficient as a water coil of a similar size. According to many experts, data center inefficiency is the main problem holding back supercomputer development.

Conventional cooling systems exhaust heated air, which then has to be cooled to maintain an acceptable ambient temperature. According to Cray CTO Steve Scott, for a petascale computer, the Computer Room Air Conditioner (CRAC) units required to cool the exhaust on a conventional system might require more space in the datacenter than the computer equipment itself.  In contrast, ECOphlex is room-air neutral. This means that air leaving the system is about the same temperature as air entering it.

Cray XT5 systems began shipping with ECOphlex capability in late 2008.

Learn More About IT:
> This video from Cray shows ECOphlex in use in a data center.
> HPCWire interviews Cray CTO Steve Scott about the features of ECOphlex.
> Cray describes ECOphlex in greater detail in this white paper. (PDF)
> Datacenterknowledge.com reports on ECOphlex.
> This article from ChannelRegister.co.uk discusses data center inefficiency.

This was last updated in March 2011
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