Posted on September 9, 2022, 6:00 PM
Immersing computer servers in coolant to save energy: This is the challenge ITrium sets itself. In early July, this TotaLinux subsidiary, an IT company, began building a fully submerged data center in Joy-on-Gozas (Evelyn). “It’s the first of its kind in the world,” enthuses Edward Bergevin, ITrium’s director of marketing. Although the solution has been around on a beta basis for about ten years, its widespread dissemination has yet to materialize.
To build its first storage centre, ITrium has joined forces with mixed economy firm Île-de-France Investissements & Territoires within the Green Data Center IDF. “This operation is completely in line with the region’s digital strategy,” says Olivier Pegzi, managing director of Ile-de-France Investments and Lands. The building is scheduled to be handed over at the end of 2023.
No need for air conditioning
The 4,000 computer servers in the data center will be distributed in 50 containers and completely immersed in a synthetic liquid, made by TotalEnergies. This technology of immersion cooling – immersion cooling in English – makes it possible to avoid air conditioning in buildings. “40% of the electricity consumption of a traditional data center is used to cool it due to servers overheating during operation. It is a prominent environmental topic because the Internet should become the world’s number one energy consumer by 2030,” notes Edward Bergevin.
Here, the liquid into which the computers will be dipped is cooled by contact with cold water. “It will exchange the hot liquid on the surface with a cold water circuit to keep it at a temperature of about 55 degrees,” explains ITrium’s Marketing Director. The hot water thus generated will be used for the building’s energy consumption and will also be re-injected into the urban heating network of Joy-en-Gosas.
Bringing data centers back to the heart of cities
This new generation of data centers also brings new horizons to the sector. “We will be able to bring data centers back to the heart of cities! Our center will last just over 100 metres2 Whereas in an air-conditioned data center, the surface needs to be multiplied by 10 to get the same number of servers,” says Edward Bergevin.
This storage center will be part of a 3-storey building, which will house 3,500 square meters2 Offices and cultural spaces. The building will be occupied privately by the TotaLinux group, to which ITtrium belongs, which has a turnover of 15 million euros. The data center will bring together all ITrium clients, in particular the CAC40 clusters. Their data is currently stored in Nanterre, in a data center partially leased by ITrium.
If the total project cost is not reported, the investment is significant to ITrium, a company that was created in 2018 and currently has 5 employees. “Currently, it costs us more than it brings, but we hope to make the data center profitable in less than 4 years,” explains Edouard Bergevin. The cost of IT servers alone, for example, reaches 10 million euros. In 2020, a study was conducted in partnership with CNRS to assess the energy efficiency of immersion cooling, with an annual investment of €150,000.
However, ITrium did not wait for the construction of its first data center to finish to set up other projects. The company, which will double its workforce within a year, is already planning to set up submerged data centers in existing buildings and obtain a patent for a solution.