Accelsius thinks its Nokia-based cooling tech will be a hot commodity

  • Accelsius bought liquid cooling IP from Nokia last year

  • It is gearing up to bring a two-phase, direct-to-chip system to market this year

  • CEO Josh Claman said there's "a lot" of interest already in its solution

Liquid cooling is all the rage among data center operators right now, and the timing couldn’t be better for Accelsius. The company, which owns the rights to some cooling-related Nokia IP, is on the cusp of commercializing a new two-phase, direct-to-chip liquid cooling solution.

If you haven’t heard of them, that’s because Accelsius is a newcomer in the market. The company was formed in June of last year when Innventure acquired high-performance cooling technology from Nokia. The evaporative cooling tech was developed by the latter’s Bell Labs division.

CEO Josh Claman told Silverlinings that in April of this year, Accelsius demonstrated the technology working in a full-rack design. Since then, it has been working to fine tune the technology into a commercial product. In the coming weeks and months, he said Accelsius will be sending out “evaluation racks” to customers and by the end of the year expects to be taking low-volume orders.

Today, Accelsius has about 30 employees, but it expects to double that in the next six months or so.

While he declined to name its customers, he said they might include “value-added resellers” in the data center integration space.

“We are probably not going to sell directly to hyperscalers and the reason is because we’re a small company,” he explained. “We will partner with industry partners to get into the hyperscalers and then we will partner with another set of partners to focus on colocation partners, enterprise data centers and telco companies as well.”

What’s on offer

There are a few kinds of liquid cooling in the market today, including immersion, rear-door heat exchanger and direct or direct-to-chip systems. The latter comes in two varieties: single phase in which the liquid remains a liquid, and two-phase in which the liquid evaporates to supercharge the system’s cooling capabilities.

Accelsius’ technology is a two-phase direct-to-chip system. This means non-conductive liquid is piped through the rack to a cooling plate nestled up against a processor chip. As that liquid absorbs heat from the chip, it evaporates and that vapor is pumped back through the system to a condenser where it is cooled again and returns to a liquid state.

Claman told Silverlinings that one of the advantages of its system compared to a single-phase direct-to-chip alternative is that it offers greater cooling power. It also doesn’t use a water-based liquid (single phase systems usually use a water/glycol mixture), which means that on the off chance a leak occurs, it won’t damage the surrounding electronics. That’s especially important for racks that use high-power, high-cost GPU chips, Claman noted.

Additionally, Claman said Accelsius’ system is backwards compatible, allowing data center operators and other customers to easily replace single-phase cooling systems.

Claman said there’s already “a lot of interest in what we’re doing.”

But he conceded “it’s a journey from air to liquid. Operators need to become used to and comfortable with whatever technology they choose. So they’re going to do some evaluations, they’re going to take racks of our technology and they’re going to test them in their environment” before moving to widespread adoption.

While he declined to share revenue or order KPIs due to the company’s private status, Claman said its projected “ramp really reflects what we think is a practical view of the journey that these operators – who are typically pretty risk averse – our growth plans reflect that. But on the other hand, they also reflect that probably the entire market’s going to go to liquid over so many years.”

In terms of competition, Claman said there are a few other two-phase providers out there, but added “we don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.” Competition, he said, will help break down doors, change perspectives and really move the needle in a market that is risk averse.

🤓 Nerd alert! We are fascinated by liquid cooling. Check out our coverage of the technology here.