A RISC-V mini-ITX immersion-cooled Linux workstation.
- SiFive Unmatched: 4+1 RISC-V cores at 1.5GHz, 16GB RAM, in Mini-ITX form factor.
- Intel AX-200 Wifi 6 / Bluetooth 5 adapter.
- 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD. I’ve got a double-sided high performance one from a previous build, and if it’s not compatible I’ll get something like a Samsung 970 Evo.
- RX 570 4GB graphics. The goal here is not high perfomance (not a gaming rig), but something that can handle a few screens and only need a PCIe Gen 3 interface.
- Wide-gap slant-fin heat sinks to replace the OEM fin array (PCIe chip) and fan (CPU).
- Extension cabling for USB and Ethernet.
- I’m undecided whether I’ll strip the fans off the graphics card and attempt to immerse it, or if I’ll get a riser/extension to bring it outside.
Immersion fluid (oil)
- Boiling and smoke points above 120C
- Liquid at room temperature
- Long shelf life (doesn’t go rancid quickly)
Nice to haves:
- Fairly clear or transparent (for aesthetics)
- Edible / non-toxic
- Doesn’t stink!
The “long shelf life” requirement basically reduces the possibility set to:
- Mineral oil (petroleum, colorless, odorless, non-edible, but not touch-toxic, quite cheap)
- Ben oil (golden, edible, fairly soft smell, 200C smoke point, very expensive)
So as much as I’d love having a veggie oil computer I’ll probably go with mineral.
I’m thinking of making a custom acrylic/copper/solid wood box that would be roughly the size of a classic mini-ITX case. A copper side would be the thermal interface, and it could be sealed to make it portable and safe from spills (not permanently glued, with a rubber seal or something), so it can sit on the topside of the desk looking all cool!
- Base: solid wood (Macrocarpa)
- Glass: 3mm acrylic. This puts a further thermal restriction as it will melt at 80°C
- Haven’t decided for the back. If I can find a large extruded alu heat sink like plate, that would be ideal, but otherwise will probably reuse and machine some existing computer case steel
NJ450-SXL from Silverstone. This is a small form factor fanless modular 450W. Selecting factors:
- 450W is more than enough, I could do with 300. But a detailed review of this one shows it’s most efficient at 50% load, which should be my average load on this system. That works out nicely.
- It’s fanless, but not only that, it’s the only PSU I found which was completely enclosed without a grate. It’s not waterproof or anything, I’m not gonna go stick it in oil, but it looks really good, certainly good enough to sit outside the case
- It’s modular, which will help integrate it into the case design, and will certainly make for a clean look given I only need the 24-pin and one 6+2 pci feed.
I name all my devices in a Star Wars theme. Workstations (desktop, laptops) after minor characters, phones and tablets after vehicles, and IoT / utility devices (vacuum, printer, routers, various SBC things, etc) after droids. My wifi network is named after a star system. I’m a nerd, sue me.
Lah Kara is from the new Visions series.
Either FreeBSD or Ubuntu (or both?).
Tier 2 platform support, many packages fail to build.
Unknown support but they have images and repos.