For many, it can feel difficult to keep up with the latest ASIC mining hardware trends, as the Bitcoin world in general and the mining industry in particular continue to rapidly evolve. One hardware adaptation that has become increasingly popular as of late, however, is liquid cooling technology, with liquid-cooled ASIC models released or announced by Bitmain and MicroBT (and with more slated to follow). Right now, some of the newest ASIC models hitting the market from some of the largest manufacturers in the world are employing liquid cooling technology. But how does liquid cooling actually work, and why does it matter?
Although seemingly novel, the trend toward ASIC liquid cooling solutions has been gaining momentum for a while now, and will likely continue thanks to some of the vital challenges for miners that it addresses. Liquid cooling can help minimize excess heat and noise while maintaining peak performance, in addition to helping maximize the lifespan of the miner itself. More than just spec sheet nomenclature that sounds cool, liquid cooling actually can, depending on your circumstances, create a real impact on your mining operations.
Traditional air-cooled designs for ASIC miners have remained the standard for years because they’ve worked well enough (and even in non-crypto contexts, the air-cooling of data centers has endured as the norm for decades). But as the Bitcoin network has expanded and its hashrate has exploded over the last several years, rising mining difficulty levels have necessitated exponentially more computing power for miners to stay competitive, thus fueling the ASIC arms race that continues to unfold.
Simple and cost-effective, air-cooling hardware had offered the ideal method for a while (and in many cases, still does), but since at least 2014 hardware designers and manufacturers have been exploring liquid cooling approaches for mining equipment in order to contend with considerably increased power consumption and thus heat output (like air cooling, the liquid-cooling of hardware was not itself new technology, having already been used in other applications for decades). Liquid cooling tech was thus adopted by Bitcoin mining in its battle against heat, and has seen growing adoption in the years since.
This all matters quite a bit within the larger backdrop of not only Bitcoin’s steadily increasing hashrate and mining difficulty but also rising energy and real estate costs and widespread mining migration to areas where temperature may be an obstacle, such as Texas, Florida, or Georgia. Though liquid-cooled hardware typically costs more upfront, this can be offset by improved performance and efficiency over the long term. Regardless, depending on the size, location, and cost inputs of your operation, liquid cooling may offer the best available means to both increase your hashrate and prolong the life of your equipment.
Liquid cooling tech is premised on the simple fact that liquid dissipates heat faster than air does. This makes liquid the superior option for cooling ASICs, and thus helping maximize miner stability, performance, and efficiency. By removing heat directly via the water block that is in direct contact with the chipsets, the specially formulated coolant helps maintain optimal rig temperatures and operations, and can also help reduce failure rates and facilitate safe overclocking, while also extending the lifespan of the hardware.
In addition, liquid cooling can also almost entirely eliminate certain other challenges encountered by air cooling systems, which typically utilize high-velocity fans and are thus subject to the air they circulate, along with all the dust it may carry. Air filtration can only remove so much dust (and air filters often need to be cleaned, maintained, or replaced), with the rest of it depositing inside the ASIC, undermining miner performance over time—an issue rendered irrelevant by liquid cooling solutions.
Liquid cooling can also solve the dilemma of miner noise, with most applications of liquid cooling reducing noise significantly or entirely. Such innovations carry major implications for large-scale data centers, especially those located in rural communities where noise output does matter. Many such communities have shared their concerns about the noise pollution brought on by such mining operations, and a push for quieter solutions from within the industry itself could help promote a more welcomed and supported expansion of Bitcoin mining within various communities.
Liquid cooling modifications for mining equipment have been in development since the early days of Bitcoin, well before ASICs had even taken over the mining space. Since then, we’ve seen a slow but steady expansion of traditional application specific internal liquid cooling solutions specifically designed for ASICs. Throughout the same period, we’ve also seen an increase in liquid cooling systems applied externally through another liquid cooling method called immersion cooling in which miners are fully submerged in a bath of dielectric coolant or mineral oil.
As with built-in liquid cooling systems, the use of immersion cooling by independent miners and within large industrial mining operations has surged as of late. In 2021 alone, for example, mining giant Riot Blockchain endeavored to increase its total hashrate by as much as 50%, sustainable miner CleanSpark ventured to improve its mining efficiency by 20%, and cleantech miner MintGreen set out to supply the entire city of North Vancouver, Canada, with heat recaptured and transferred from Bitcoin mining—and all with implementation of immersion cooling.
Heat of the Moment
With ASIC liquid cooling tech continuing to evolve, it only stands to become more common in mining hardware moving forward, at least until other solutions emerge. Liquid cooling can help miners eliminate noise and manage heat, which can help maximize performance and efficiency, and prolong hardware lifespan. With the Bitcoin network hashrate and mining difficulty level both hitting all-time highs again recently, liquid-cooled hardware could also provide an optimal way for miners to keep up with the ever-increasing difficulty.
At Wattum, we strive to meet all of your Bitcoin mining needs, whatever they may be, and will continue to offer the latest-gen ASIC mining hardware, no matter where the industry heads next. We also provide custom-built mobile mining containers, hosting and management services, facility buildouts, and installment payment plan options. Subscribe to receive our weekly equipment inventory updates or get in touch with a Wattum sales representative to learn more about your Bitcoin mining options today.