But http://blog.iceotope.com/2012/03/iceotope-liquid-cools-cabin... omits the crucial detail that the Novec boils inside your server, which is why it can work so well, and http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/NA-DataCenters/D... of course doesn't mention Iceotope at all.
(Thanks to uvdiv for digging up the actual information!)
Since The Register is a British site, and is also known for often being somewhat tongue in cheek, there really isn't anything to read in to their use of the word.
"There is little that irritates scientists more than the idea of the "boffin". This century-old meme has at least two flavours: the befuddled, bespectacled, bad-hair-day (or no-hair-day) man, socially inept but somewhat cuddly (think Doc in Back To The Future); and there is the more sinister iteration: the equally dishevelled but cold, arrogant and/or mad male meddler, bent on no good (think Rotwang in Metropolis).
"Neither of these versions is remotely flattering, and neither bears any resemblance to reality."
(press release) http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/NA-DataCenters/D...
(technical data) http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/3MNovec/Home/Pro...
It's a phase-change system (the coolant boils). That's what the article means by "a thousand times better at conducting heat than water": it absorbs orders of magnitude more heat because of the phase change. It boils 49 °C at atmospheric pressure, cold enough for electronics.
They claim it doesn't need fans: the boiling is enough to maintain natural circulation (convection) from the server to the heat sink.
Are we talking about a single liquid? Did 3M license the formula from Leeds Uni/Icetope?
I'll try to understand it better this evening
3M is the chemical firm which developed the coolant ("Novec"). Leeds/Iceotope is a customer:
"UK company Iceotope, that patented liquid cooling for servers in the data center back in 2009, has released new products to market that use 3M’s Novec, an engineered non-flammable solvent it says makes the cooling process safer."
3M is also developing a server cooling system, independent of Leeds/Iceotope. This is the one in this press release, and I was mistaken to identify the one with the other.
The 3M system is phase-change. I'm no longer sure what the Register is writing about, but Iceotope is researching both liquid and phase-change systems:
"Iceotope Ltd, registered in Guernsey, is a technology company that researches and develops liquid and phase change cooling solutions based around heat pipe encapsulation."
Here's their liquid cooling system. One property of these coolants is their very low boiling point. That's useful for phase-change cooling. Another is that they have very high thermal expansivity, which means that they convect strongly as liquids (without phase change). That's useful for strictly liquid cooling.
They say the convection is 20-40x stronger than water, and overall heat removal 10-15x better. Since the Register article is saying "a thousand times" better heat conduction, I think they're taking about a phase change system. At least for that specific figure.
- According to wikipedia , fluorinert as used in the Cray was a single-phase coolant (no boiling). It needed fluid pumps and chilled water, at high energy cost; this phase-change solution avoids both.
- Wikipedia claims fluorinert has a very long atmospheric lifetime and high global-warming potential.  3M claims this new fluid is destroyed by sunlight , and doesn't have the same problems.
 (PDF) http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/mediawebserver?mwsId=66666UF6EV...
(The "M.J. Molina" in the datasheet is the Nobelist and co-discoverer of the ozone hole)
They seem to be in the same family of products and several of their physical properties are very similar, so maybe they're just variants.
Here's a link to a page which has both families:
Also you're supposed to dike the area if a major spill occurs, but I'm pretty sure that's just MSDS boilerplate.
You have fluorine in your tooth paste. Hell, oxygen can be dangerous, nitrogen is used in a lot of explosives etc etc.
I don't know if that's relative to some of the other nastier stuff they sell.
The 3M page seems to show servers dunked in "semi sealed" cabinets of this stuff, which boils, evaporates, cools, and falls back into the tank.
http://youtu.be/WIVt66RSWNU?t=9m31s (sorry, only in Russian)
Look up entropy and thermodynamics for more background.
Dielectric liquid cooled computers have been around a long time. I even did my capstone project my senior year taking a 3M dielectric fluid and attempting to make a liquid cooled laptop.
What's always forgotten is you have to move the heat farther then you think. Dielectric fluids are great for getting the heat off the cpu but then where do you move it to? In my project we tried to use the back of the laptop monitor to be a large surface area for natural convention. Boiling is much cooler (literally).
Laptop of course wouldn't work out because imagine trying to manufacture those things at scale! Also, these fluids when they evaporate aren't exactly kind to the atmosphere.
I'd still like to see something like this for server cooling: http://www.extremetech.com/computing/131656-the-fanless-heat...
Even if your only change was to place the server into the liquid you get a nice bump in efficiency of cooling by having the thermal bulk of the liquid transferring heat quickly away from the hot spots. The liquid itself would then cool on contact with the air, the much larger surface area acting kind of like a big radiator.
"In computers, a Sandia Cooler would mean that we could finally cross the 4GHz/150W TDP thermal wall — or build computers that are thinner and quieter."
This is better because... there's no per-server hardware to get the heat to the cooler? Just a mostly-sealed room (or tank) with one inlet pipe and one outlet vent?
I'm assuming that tanks full of presumably patented special-purpose liquid would be rather expensive, and that sealed partially-evacuated piping ought to be somewhat less so.
As for chaining up heat pipes... not really sure how to respond to that.