The path to more efficient computing in the era of AI: Warm Water Cooling

Scott Tease, Vice President and General Manager of High-Performance Computing and AI at Lenovo

Running 100KW+ server racks without the need for specialized data center air conditioning with 6th Generation Lenovo Neptune

This week, Lenovo announced the 6th generation of Lenovo Neptune™ liquid cooling, designed to help businesses unlock the power needed for AI without forfeiting their sustainability goals. Lenovo also announced its 18th annual Report, sharing its progress toward 2030 emissions reduction goals, increased participation in the circular economy, industry-leading representation of women in technical roles 1, increased employee volunteerism, and proactive governance of AI as we work to become the leading provider of smarter AI for all.

For nearly 20 years, we have been measuring and reporting our sustainability efforts and now that we are in the AI Era – we are bringing this experience to bear, ensuring that sustainable computing is the cornerstone of responsible AI advancement and our mission to make AI accessible for all. 

Lenovo first announced its smarter AI for all vision at Lenovo Tech World in October 2023. Since then, Lenovo has launched an AI-enabled solution for real-time tracking of its manufacturing emissions, an AI-powered engine to give customers insights on their IT emissions, and numerous social impact initiatives to support communication for people with hearing losspreserve the voice of an individual suffering from ALS, connect non-profits to trusted resources for AI, and ensure its own AI solutions are reviewed for inclusion and accessibility, among other responsible AI factors.

In the last year, Generative AI has taken the world by storm, capturing the attention of users, the press, investors, and organizations globally.  Unfortunately, the energy required to power all this innovation has adverse implications on ESG efforts and commitments to sustainable computing. Organizations will be challenged to modernize trillions of dollars’ worth of installed IT equipment used to provide AI, while simultaneously maintaining the commitment to providing smarter technology that builds a brighter, more sustainable future.

Lenovo is working every day to support the mainstream rollout of AI-ready computing without sacrificing energy efficiency. Power efficiency remains crucial to making the rollout of these compute-intensive workloads accessible for all businesses. A key element to enabling this transformation? Water.

Lenovo Neptune has led the world in data center cooling technology for more than a decade. With more than 40 industry-first patents, Lenovo continues pushing the envelope in the use of liquid to remove heat, enabling customers to realize up to a 40% reduction in power consumption and a 3.5x improvement in thermal efficiencies compared to traditional air-cooled systems. Our direct water-cooling solution recycles loops of warm water to cool data center systems and keep all the server components cool, reducing the need for power-hungry system fans in data center operation.

As we look ahead, with today’s announcement, the 6th generation of Lenovo Neptune liquid cooling will  support the mainstream rollout of AI-ready computing without sacrificing energy efficiency, leveraging new design innovation, like cold plate designs and on-memory cooling, to make more power efficient computing available across all ThinkSystem V3 and V4 servers. With this next generation, Lenovo Neptune will also allow AI and HPC customers to run 100KW+ server racks without the need for specialized data center air conditioning, because 98% of all heat will be transferred to the water loop.

Lenovo Neptune liquid cooling technology can help customers achieve ultra-low Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) in their data center. PUE is the ratio of the total amount of energy used by the data center facility overall to the energy used by just the computing equipment. By implementing direct water-cooling of CPUs, GPUs, and NVIDIA NVLink technology, systems, the Lenovo ThinkSystem SR780a can both provide sustained maximum performance without reaching thermal limits and reduce the environmental impact over a traditional fully air-cooled server. In fact, Lenovo Neptune™ provides more sustained computing power in a compact footprint that allows for extreme power efficiency without compromising model training time. 

Lenovo’s ongoing liquid cooling innovation with partners is also critical to helping customers advance on their AI journey. For example, colocation partnerships are helping customers implement high-performance private AI even if they lack the data center footprint or infrastructure for liquid cooling. Most recently, Lenovo partnered with Digital Realty on their groundbreaking liquid-to-chip cooling technology and the next evolution in high-density deployment support. Direct liquid cooling (DLC) brings liquid directly to customers’ infrastructure, in order to effectively meet the pervasive demand for AI.  Lenovo’s collaboration with Digital Realty empowers clients to meet their sustainability goals and address the needs of AI, without sacrificing the power necessary to perform high demands.

Partners like Digital Realty are helping us pave the way to give responsible access to AI for every industry, every company and every person. As we focus on technology solutions that help build a more sustainable future, Lenovo Neptune™ is designed to make data center computing as powerful and efficient as possible, empowering customers to meet their sustainability goals and exponentially grow generative AI and intelligence through infrastructure that doesn’t sacrifice efficiency for higher performance.

1 Based on published data from competitors and peers


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