A water-cooled update


Earlier we reported on Vikings' planned watercooling system for OpenPOWER. Vikings is now reporting their second revision, an improved lower-pressure mount, should be available for purchase from their store in two to four weeks. Unlike the IBM HSFs this is a low-pressure mounting mechanism which made it both less expensive and easier to engineer, and also means a custom cooler for the higher pressures won't be necessary. (Vikings notes a short screw is used "so that it shouldn't be possible to tighten it too much.") No MSRP yet and no preorders currently, but it will be sold as a full kit (fluid also available, or use your choice of appropriate fluids depending on the tubing) compatible with all existing Raptor systems or as just the cooler/mount for those with an existing external radiator. For you crazy people trying to cram an 18-core into a Blackbird this might be your ticket, but I'm interested myself to get rid of the fan bank in my POWER9 HTPC spooling up and down — after all, the best advantage of liquid cooling is the peace and quiet. More to come when kits are available.

Comments

  1. I'm pretty sure the blackbird can't deliver enough power for 18 cores?

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    1. Allegedly people have done it. I would think you'd kill the VREGs with that myself.

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    2. 02CY416 is (according to the wiki) a 130 watt 18-core chip, so that will work in a Blackbird just going by wattage. There's also a 160 watt 22-core chip, but Raptor sells neither.

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    3. 02CY416 appears to have a base clock of 2.25 GHz but still turbos to 3.8 GHz full-out. So - assuming that power draw measurement's accurate - you can still benefit from all those threads, but you'll be doing it at lower clocks. I can't speak to the 160W 22 core chip, but that is probably following a similar playbook. Raptor's presumably playing it safe with the hardware they've chosen, but if somebody gets a lower-clocked 18 core running that'd still be super for big compiles.

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    4. I know it's lame to reply to my own post, but if we put all the potential electrical issues aside, I'd expect the dual-channel memory to be a bigger constraint with all those SMT4 cores in motion. It'd be interesting to see testing results for several reasons, but I am not volunteering... least of all since I'm still waiting for the order from Raptor I placed late last month.

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    5. Yeah, Raptor hasn't said much on twitter all this month, one tweet today and the last one before that was on the 11th, and twitter is the bare minimum of communication. Apparently they're waiting on SATA controllers they won't get until November.

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  2. "The Vikings Store Spring-Cleaning turned into a Summer Autumn-Cleaning.

    BUT WE WILL BE BACK SOON, PROMISE :-) "

    Sad but I have been looking forward to equipment in Europe for years. With this approach to the client, all the fun with OpenPOWER makes no sense :(

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    1. There is always the possibility to move to the USA :-D

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  3. We plan to be bring the store back online on Guy Fawkes Night (5th of November). Source: https://store.vikings.net/

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  4. A cooling question I'm hoping someone can answer: for the 2U air cooler on the POWER9 chips, what's the height from the surface of the board to the top of the heatsink?

    I cave a case with a rather low ceiling and I'd like to make sure the CPU heatsink will actually fit inside it. I can't find this specific bit of mechanical data anywhere and haven't been able to get the info from Raptor.

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    1. I'd have to crack mine out to look at it (it's in a rack right now) but it's in a small off-the-shelf mATX case and the 2U HS just clears the top.

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    2. (The case itself is 105mm in height, according to the box)

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  5. "For you crazy people trying to cram an 18-core into a Blackbird this might be your ticket"

    Whoa, careful there! Blackbird's problem for higher power CPUs definitely isn't going to be air cooling of the processor, else you would just solve that by using a different cooler (same as the one used for Talos that can handle these CPUs?) and maybe a more open/ventilated case.

    Your problem is the VRM circuitry that IIRC has smaller number of VRM phases and due to that can supply lower current than the VRM on Talos II.
    Overloading motherboard's VRM by installing a CPU with higher than supported TDP will overheat the VRM and high temperatures with high utilization shorten the lifespan of the VRM. This is a recipe for bricking the board and worse, since you might get the VRM to burn and short, this can kill your CPU too. And with bad luck, other hardware too.

    There is another problem with that sentence. Water Cooling does not create airflow around the CPU socket, so in virtually all cases, installing a water block will make the VRM components heat up more. Therefore, by watercooling, you would actually make the situation worse, for the Blackbird board!

    In case of the Blackbird, the situation is made worse by the VRM lacking heatsinks, which is something I would generally advise against with PC boards, but in this case, you have no choice, obviously.

    Anyway, sorry for longwinded warning, but you people should really be careful given how much your boards cost.

    If somebody wants to get higher-TDP processors to work in Blackbird, the thing they need to do is something different: they need to improve the VRM cooling. Add heatsink there (ensure it is effective in sucking heat out of the chips and does not actually trap it under itself). Add fans that would cool down that heatsink, or at least blow on the VRM circuitry (I would definitely do this if i put a water cooler on motherboard that has no VRM cooling like BB).

    Watercooling would only help if you had a fullcover-type water block that has direct contact not just with the CPU, but watercools the VRM too (tends to be quite effective in taming down high power consumption processors and the heat they generate in VRMs).

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