Systemex Energies

Integrated innovation chain: New high-performance cooling technology for microelectronics

Sherbrooke, May 30, 2018 – If the Internet were a country, it would rank as the sixth largest for energy consumption. The storage and processing of data consumes an incredible amount of energy, and cooling advanced electronic equipment represents about 50% of overall energy consumption. Developing solutions that optimize energy efficiency of millions of global servers could at the same time reduce their operating costs and environmental footprint.

In order to develop a new high-performance cooling technology for microelectronics, a research program called Advanced Cooling is being set up with the support of several partners, namely the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), PROMPT, University of Sherbrooke, Systemex Energies and Varitron Technologies. The investment of time and money by all partners represents $2.6 million over 3 years. Research activities will take place mainly at two sites: the MiQro Innovation Collaborating Centre (C2MI) and the Interdisciplinary Institute for Technological Innovation (3IT).

The new high-capacity cooling technology for advanced electronic devices is based on the immersion of these devices in a dielectric liquid – which does not conduct the electrical current, so that the heat produced by the devices can be dissipated and cooled with greatest efficiency.

Better manage the amount of heat produced by computers

“The main challenge for data center server rooms that support the digital economy and the Cloud is managing the massive amount of heat produced by computers. This problem represents significant operating costs and limits the performance of data centers,” explains Julien Sylvestre, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UdeS and Principal Researcher. “In collaboration with our partners, our objective will be to better understand the technological barriers that stand in the way of making this immersion cooling technology reliable, efficient and stable and harness the true potential of this technology for commercial use.”

The program will mainly serve to develop a thorough understanding of the reliability of submerged devices and the thermofluidic effects – control of thermal transfer – in submerged systems, a highly complex fundamental challenge that remains relevant despite decades of active research. Prototypes using this type of cooling will be developed and tested on C2MI industrial equipment in order to demonstrate their efficient integration into standard encapsulation processes and to accelerate a possible technology transfer to industry.

“We are proud to bring this cutting-edge cooling technology to the level now required by the market, through the contribution of partners of choice who provide leading expertise needed to deliver a highly reliable solution in terms of performance and value, compared to conventional systems,” affirms Marc-Antoine Pelletier, Senior Partner at Systemex Energies.

“This cooling technology will allow our customers to significantly increase electronic performance by adapting existing or future products,” said Patrice Lavoie, Vice-President, Sales and Business Development at Varitron Technologies.

Ensure our national leadership in microelectronics

All master’s and doctoral students involved in this project will gain unique industrial research experience. Having access to world-class equipment and working in two recognized research centres will help them to develop significant skills in research, engineering, project management and collaborative work. With highly qualified trained personnel on hand throughout the program, the expertise developed will help ensure our national leadership in microelectronics.

“NSERC’s research partnership programs bring together Canada’s best discoverers and innovators to address research challenges. The development of cost-effective, high-performance cooling technology for advanced electronic devices could have significant environmental and economic benefits in terms of reduced energy consumption, job creation and increased industrial competitiveness,” says Marc Fortin, Vice-President, Research Partnerships Branch, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

“PROMPT is proud to be able to support such a collaborative project which will have a major impact in a sector that is dear to its heart, that of microelectronics. This project will once again demonstrate the high level of technological innovation that partnerships between businesses and universities can generate,” said François Borrelli, Vice-President, Partnership Development.

Integrated innovation chain

The creation of synergy between complementary fields of expertise will lead to the development of a reliable, efficient and stable technology for potential customers. From basic research to pre-commercialization, project partners will overcome today’s challenges to increase cooling quality and thermal performance of cooling technologies.

“Research is made possible thanks to the integrated innovation chain combining applied basic research and commercialization support composed of unique infrastructures such as 3IT, an infrastructure for scientific innovation and technological maturation, and C2MI, a research centre dedicated to electronic systems with unique infrastructures in Canada,” explains Professor Vincent Aimez, Vice-President, Commercialization and Partnerships at University of Sherbrooke.