New AMRC partnership with Iceotope to foster innovations in IT for manufacturing sector

23 January 2017

The latest member of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, Iceotope, is making waves in the manufacturing sector by demonstrating their liquid cooling system for high-performance computing (HPC) used in harsh and rugged environments.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park alongside the AMRC, the company have developed patented liquid cooling technology which can save 40 per cent of the total cost of ownership.

Using this innovative technology, Iceotope have developed a high-performance workstation suitable for office environments which replaces air cooling with passive liquid cooling for silent operation and flexible deployment.

Iceotope have also developed a data centre facility consisting of sealed server blades immersed in safe, non-flammable coolant, to capture and reuse waste heat for greater efficiency.

AMRC IT Systems Manager, Chris Hodgson, said: “Creating HPC facilities within a manufacturing environment can be challenging due to the variety of settings and uses required.

“Servers and workstations need to be protected against hazards such as dust and debris created by manufacturing processes. Increasingly flexibility of location and efficient heat management are also required for office-based computing centres.  Placing the computing power at the edge of the network also reduces bandwidth and interconnectivity requirements.”

Workstations will be trialled in the AMRC’s Design, Prototyping and Testing Centre and on the workshop floor of the Composite Centre, where the sealed units will protect workstations from carbon fibre dust that is routinely generated by the manufacturing operations. A data centre facility will soon be installed in the AMRC’s newest development Factory 2050, to assist in the processing of ‘big data’ for a large volume metrology project.

Sam Hyde, a project engineer with the AMRC’s Design and Prototyping Group, said: “The Iceotope system represents a valuable resource for the design and prototyping group. The power available is ideal for computationally intensive work, such as computational fluid dynamics, finite element analysis and 3D rendering.

“It is also useful that the machine is totally silent in operation, unlike similar machines which require a large number of high power fans for cooling. This allows us to keep the machine in the quiet office, and not need a dedicated room for the equipment.”

Chris Hodgson said: “This technology is new to the manufacturing sector, so the partnership with the AMRC will assist Iceotope in proving the benefits the technology can bring when used in a manufacturing environment; helping them to effectively target new markets to which their technology will be of benefit.”

The partnership is a three year investment for Iceotope, who will provide service and support to the AMRC as well as upgrading the current installations after new developments, in which they hope to further reduce the size of the system.

Peter Hopton, founder and technology director of Iceotope, said:  “We’re very excited about our strategic partnership with the AMRC.

“We protect critical data from harsh environments – the perfect solution for a factory floor. The AMRC now have high performance ‘edge of network’ machines which, thanks to liquid cooling technology, offer fast and flexible deployment for their manufacturing workloads.

“We look forward to working with AMRC on technological advancements and collaborating with other forward-thinking companies made possible through our partnership.”

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