What do the 1950s military avionics technology and bitcoin mining servers have in common? In a word – heat, or, more precisely, cooling requirements.
Blowing cold air over the innards of military aircraft and satellite electronics 60 years ago was as inefficient as blowing cold air through power-hungry bitcoin mining servers today. It was in the 50s that 3M introduced its first dielectric fluid, which at the time found its first application in cooling avionics systems.
In the decades that followed, the single biggest application for 3M’s fluids has been in supercomputers, which because of their power density were much better off cooled with liquid than air. Over the last several years, however, as the bitcoin mining industry grew and reached a point where the biggest players were building their own mining hardware and data centers to house it, cooling electronics with dielectric fluid found its second big application.
Power densities in bitcoin mining data centers are radically higher than in data centers that house traditional IT equipment, and operators of these facilities tend to squeeze every last watt and square foot they can out of them. Some of them have found that by bringing bitcoin mining ASICs, or Application Specific Integrated Circuits,