The evolving needs of our customers shape the way we at Dell’s Extreme Scale Infrastructure (ESI) group innovate and develop industry-leading technology for the hyperscale and near-hyperscale market.
For eBay, a global commerce leader, meeting their needs meant building a completely new datacenter cooling solution from the ground up to improve performance during peak times while reducing their total cost of ownership (TCO). Leveraging our deep hyperscale roots, we designed a unique approach to liquid cooling that’s built on our rack-scale infrastructure.
'Triton' in the lab
Today, we are taking this technology from behind closed doors as proof of concept work for eBay and unveiling it under the codename of ‘Triton.’
A Closer Look at ‘Triton’
Because water can transport heat 25 times more efficiently than air, ‘Triton’ can run high performing components faster and more efficiently than traditional air-cooled systems. Its ability to sub-cool the processor and operate at higher frequencies means that ‘Triton’ can deliver up to 59% greater performance than the popular Intel Xeon processor E5-2680v4 for similar costs. The combination of ‘Triton’ and a customized 200W Intel Xeon processor E5 v4 can also provide double digit performance increases over the highest performing Intel Xeon processor on the market today(1).
“We worked closely with Dell to develop a customized server solution which utilizes an innovative approach of liquid cooling 200W CPUs to deliver large performance and efficiency gains,” said Nick Whyte, Vice President, Fellow Search Technology, eBay. "By collaborating with Dell and Intel our search servers achieved an increase of 70% in throughput (QPS – queries per second) with the new Intel Xeon processor E5-2679 v4 versus the previous generation Intel Xeon processor E5-2680 v3 in the ‘Triton’ proof of concept.”
“Pushing the thermal design power (TDP) boundary to provide a highly dense compute platform provides excellent TCO benefits by efficiently utilizing resources as well as providing an option for high top-end CPU performance,” said Raejeanne Skillern, Vice President and General Manager, Cloud Provider Group, Intel. “Our collaboration with Dell on ‘Triton’ exemplifies this point and provides the increased performance, efficiency and TCO savings many organizations are looking for to address specific workload and infrastructure needs.”
So how does ‘Triton’ do this? For starters, we’ve removed the need for more costly and less efficient liquid-to-liquid heat exchangers, cooling loops or pumping systems that most cooling solutions require. Dell is the first major vendor to safely bring facility water directly in each server sled to cool the CPU, which brings unparalleled cooling efficiencies along with the lowest water consumption of any liquid cooled solution on the market today(2). In fact, this approach uses 97% less datacenter cooling power than the average air-cooled datacenter, up to 62% less power consumption than HPE Apollo 8000, and has a power usage effectiveness (PUE) as low as 1.02 to 1.03(3). Such efficiencies translates into major operational cost savings while also increasing performance for demanding applications.
The future of liquid cooling in the datacenter
‘Triton’ is just the latest example of Dell’s commitment to increase datacenter efficiency and drive customer-centric innovation. While this liquid cooling technology can bring big advantages to large scale-out environments - especially where CPU frequency is a key driver for overall performance such as high performance computing, financial trading and related high-performance workloads - it’s important to stress that liquid cooling is not for everyone. In many cases, traditional air-cooled solutions will continue to make the most sense from a TCO perspective.
While we’re excited to be showcasing ‘Triton’ to you today, this won’t be the last time you hear from ESI on liquid cooling in the datacenter. We’re currently evaluating a “closed loop” version of ‘Triton’ that offers the same liquid cooling technology and CPU support, but removes the need for datacenters to have facility water at the rack. This has the potential to bring liquid cooling to an even broader set of scale-out customers.
To learn more, please watch the below video from Austin Shelnutt, our lead thermal architect on ‘Triton’ and download this report from Moor Insights & Strategy.
Is the notion of water in a server, much less directly on the CPU, sending you into a panic? To ease concerns, Dell has done an inordinate amount of testing and has developed a host of leak detection and protection methods to virtually eliminate any added risk during operation. Come back next week to learn more about the precautions we take with Dell ‘Triton’ technology.
(1) Based on testing by Dell Labs in May 2016, using the Linpack benchmark test, comparing the Intel® Xeon® processor E5 v4 found in ‘Triton’ (3.3 GHz Turbo, 20C, 200W TDP) versus the Intel® Xeon® E5-2680 v4 (3.3 GHz, 14C, 120W) and Intel Xeon E5-2699 v4 (3.6 GHz, 22C, 145W). Actual performance will vary.
(2) Based on Dell internal analysis, May 2016.
(3) Based on Dell internal analysis, May 2016, where the average data center PUE is 1.7, ‘Triton’ PUE is 1.023, and HPE Apollo 8000 PUE is 1.06.