Bitcoin’s biggest miner, BitFury, says it is launching the world’s largest two-phase immersion cooling project.
BitFury CEO Valery Vavilov said in a statement:
“We’ve taken many steps to optimize our infrastructure for securing the blockchain and blockchain transaction processing … These experiences and technologies could be useful for next generation data center constructions of high performance computing and supercomputing.”
Phase one is on track to achieve a power usage effectiveness (PUE) score of 1.02 – meaning that for every 1.02 watts the centre takes in, 1 watt is transferred to its equipment. According to a 2014 survey, the average reported by data centres is 1.7.
Bitfury, which is also bitcoin’s best funded miner, has two other facilities, a 20MW centre in Gori, Georgia, and another in Iceland, with a PUE of 1.05. Last week it mined 16.6% of bitcoin blocks, nearly double rival KnCMiner.
With a deflated bitcoin price and increasing competition, running costs are more important for miners than ever. While power is often the biggest overhead, cooling equipment that runs 24/7 is another.
In an interview last April, Allied Control’s vice president of engineering, Alex Kampl, told CoinDesk immersion cooling, while costly, is a perfect fit for the bitcoin mining industry:
“Passive 2-phase immersion cooling is extremely promising, but miners are probably the only ones with the density, flexibility and the need for rapid deployment to use it here and today.”
The process works by immersing hardware in a liquid with a very low boiling point. Once heated, the liquid will evaporate, pulling heat away, then condense and drip back into the tank. 3M claims it can reduce costs by 95%.
Fluids aren’t the only choice for industrial-scale bitcoin miners seeking to cool their equipment, however.
In September, KnCMiner opened an 18,000-sq ft facility in northern Sweden that keeps temperatures low via Arctic air pumped in by giant fans. It is said to run on Europe’s cheapest electricity.