SSI Alliance

A Tale of Two Conferences: The Best of Times for Scalable and Sustainable Infrastructure.

From the first line of A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens sets a theme of duality with the paradoxical contention that it was simultaneously “the best” and “the worst” of times. When it comes to data centers and sustainability, it would be dramatic to call it “the worst of times.” Yes, there are challenges within the energy-guzzling industry with HPC/supercomputers demanding an increasingly enormous amount of energy and resources to power and cool. However, far from the worst of times, we are in an age of wisdom and a season of innovation.It’s arguably the best of times for scalable and sustainable data center infrastructure based on a couple of interrelated points. First, it’s the “best of times” for the community. The collaboration and cooperation amongst companies and people across the entire data center value chain has never been greater. OEMs, silicon companies, data center owners, service providers and others are coming together to accelerate the adoption of disruptive power and cooling technologies for workloads that drive towards net zero carbon footprints.Second (and perhaps because of the above mentioned collaboration) it’s the best of times for data center technology innovation – which the community is spearheading.This reality was evident at two major industry conferences that team and community members from Equinix and Open19 attended over the past 2 months. Q4 has been a blur, and we are just now reflecting on our time at the OCP Global Summit in October and SC22 in November as we sprint into the winter holidays. One thing’s certain: it’s great to be back at in-person events! At both conferences, we displayed the first Open19 V2 systems with complete cages, bricks, and liquid cooling manifold implementations. With V2, we have pushed the boundaries with power and cooling standards that address both performance needs and sustainability goals for computing hardware and renewable IT.

With V1, we demonstrated the impact of a simple brick-based data center and standardized 19” rack. Earlier this summer, we began prototyping our V2 specification, which includes an updated data connector spec, a new power shelf that is 48V native, and a blind-mate  liquid cooling connector. At OCP, we live-demoed a V2 rack with the team from Schneider Electric and Chilldyne’s direct-to-chip liquid cooling system implemented in an ASRock Rack brick. The negative pressure, leak-proof liquid cooling system both increases data center efficiency and reduces vulnerability to downtime. These working samples are clear proof that a community-driven approach to sustainable in-rack data centers is resonating and real.

There were several key takeaways and announcements from OCP that truly underscored the focus on open standards, open collaboration and joint efforts across industry organizations and vendors in the space. OCP announced an expanded collaboration with the Linux Foundation (Open19 is the open data center hardware project of the Linux Foundation), and analyst Lucas Beran wrote an interesting summary on the shift toward liquid cooling across the industry. Open19 members Zutacore, CoolIT, Vertiv, Schneider Electric, and CPC are all amongst the companies pushing innovation forward in the area of liquid cooling for data centers.At SuperCompute22 in Dallas, we joined nearly 12,000 attendees for the year’s biggest HPC conference. Open19 had a presence in a number of booths on the show floor. The Schneider Electric rack from OCP Summit was attached to a much larger 350kW negative pressure CDU supplied by Chilldyne. The booth stayed dry as passers by, including Patrick, swung the axe at the cooling lines.The ZutaCore team displayed a water-free two-phase cooled brick built by Inspur and ASRock Rack in the respective booths. Liquid cooled systems had a marked presence at SC22 with presence in almost every booth.

Our time at both of these major conferences helped validate how together we all can play a tangible and significant role in reducing the environmental impact of IT both as a good business practice and to benefit the larger community. As we move into 2023, Open19 remains committed to enabling data center operators, suppliers, and end users to collectively solve common challenges through an open standard and create a solution that will enable use cases for data center operators of all sizes.We also will have some major updates and news about the organization’s brand and project expansion that we’re excited about, so stay tuned as we continue to innovate through these best of times!