Look, everyone loves John Slattery. But this is relevant, promise.

In Iron Man 2, there is a moment when Tony Stark is watching a decades-old film of his deceased father, who tells him “I’m limited by the technology of my time, but one day you’ll figure this out. And when you do, you will change the world.” It’s a work of fiction but the notion expressed is legitimate. The visions and ideas of technologists are frequently well ahead of the technology of their times. Star Trek may have always had it, but it took the rest of us decades to get tablets and e-readers right.

The concept of liquid cooling sits squarely in this category as well. While the idea has been around since the 1960s, it remained a fringe concept when compared to the much cheaper and safer air cooling method. It took another 40 odd years before liquid cooling even started to take off in the 2000s, and then it was mostly confined to PC hobbyists who wanted to overclock their CPUs well beyond the recommended limits set by Intel and AMD.

Today, however, liquid cooling seems to be having a moment. You can buy a liquid cooling system for your PC for under $100, and a whole cottage industry of enterprise and data center vendors (like CoolIT, Asetek, Green Revolution Computing, Ebullient, just to name four) are all promoting liquid cooling of data center equipment. Liquid cooling continues to be primarily used in areas of supercomputing, high performance computing (HPC), or other situations involving massive amounts of compute power where CPUs run at almost 100 percent utilization, but such a use case is becoming mainstream.

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