The Impact of Bitcoin Mining on Data Centers

Bitcoin is the newbuzz word in computing these days. It holds the promise of making fast money and is a lucrative temptation for those who like to play big. Bitcoin is a transaction protocol for digital currency transactions and is the name of the crypto currency. Though not all governments  have legalized the use of bitcoins, the United States appears to be one of the more bitcoin friendly governments. Many online retailers across industries such as jewelry, fashion, home decor, electronics, consumables and even books accept bitcoins.

The Impact of Bitcoin Mining on Data CentersHow does this current craze around bitcoins affect the data center industry? Bitcoin mining requires specialized high performance hardware that can solve the computational algorithms at a high-speed, with accuracy and efficiency. The demand for this kind of hardware is going up exponentially each day. Along with the demand for this kind of specialized hardware, the growing demand for data centers to equip and to handle cooling of this kind of heat generating hardware is increasing. Specialized data centers use immersion cooling, which is a liquid cooling technique for high density hardware.

An example of a data center implementing these techniques is the unique one created by innovative company ASICMiner. This company uses Novec, which is a new liquid that is used for data center cooling, created by 3M. The hardware racks are mounted in huge tanks containing this liquid. As the hardware heats up, the liquid provides the surrounding cooling as it converts from liquid to gas.

Bitcoin mining is an extremely computing intensive activity and the need for both electric and computing power increases over time. Data centers that support bitcoin mining are usually in the range of 1 megawatt to 5 megawatt facilities. The kind of cooling needed is similar to the requirements of super computers, and Green Revolution Cooling (GRC) is another leading provider of immersion based cooling systems.

Liquid cooling is the de-facto way to go forward for bitcoin mining hardware. For example, data centers that use liquid cooling claim to be able to accommodate up to 92 blades in a single tank. The popularity of bitcoin will see a growing need for high-tech data centers with state of the art hardware and cooling mechanisms higher in the coming year.

Alex Carroll

Alex Carroll

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Alex, co-owner, is responsible for all real estate, construction and mission critical facilities: hardened buildings, power systems, cooling systems, fire suppression, and environmentals. Alex also manages relationships with the telecommunications providers and has an extensive background in IT infrastructure support, database administration and software design and development. Alex architected Lifeline’s proprietary GRCA system and is hands-on every day in the data center.
Alex Carroll