from the cool-use-of-hot-tech dept.
BBC News has an article about "nerd power" in the form of heat from datacenters being harnessed to warm homes and businesses:
Ask Jerry van Waardhuizen about his new radiator and you get an excited response. "I'm very enthusiastic," he says. "It's a beautiful thing." The sleek white box, which has been hugging his wall for two weeks, looks nice enough as radiators go. But what's really got Waardhuizen excited is what's going on inside.
Instead of hot water, it contains a computer connected to the internet, doing big sums and kicking out heat in the process. It was created by a Dutch start-up called Nerdalize, and could be part of a solution to a big problem for the tech industry.
We talk about data being "virtual" and stored on a "cloud". In fact, those clouds take the form of very large, noisy data centres containing tens of thousands of servers. To prevent the server stacks overheating, tech companies spend vast sums on cooling technology - more than a third of a data centre's hefty energy bill may go on air conditioning. With data centres estimated to account for 1.5% of global electricity consumption (in 2010), this wastage is costly to businesses and to the environment too.
Nerdalize's solution is, effectively, to spread their data centre across domestic homes linked by fibre-optic cable. The excess heat can then be used instead of going to waste.
The radiators take a little longer than average to heat up - about an hour, Waardhuizen says - and a single unit won't be enough to heat a room in mid-winter. But, after a small set-up fee, the heat is completely free to users. Nerdalize gets its money for providing data services. During this year-long pilot, its clients include Leiden University Medical Centre, which uses the radiators to crunch through lengthy protein and gene analysis.
Mentioned are Nerdalize, a 2011 paper by Microsoft Research and the University of Virginia (pdf), Facebook's Lulea, Sweden datacenter, Bahnhof, Iceotope, and the Westin Building sharing heat with Amazon's headquarters in Seattle.
Tiny data center makes for a comfortable swim:
A data center about the size of a washing machine is being used to heat a public swimming pool in England.
Data centers' servers generate heat as they operate, and interest is growing in finding ways to harness it to cut energy costs and offset carbon emissions.
In this latest example, the computing technology has been placed inside a white box and surrounded by oil, which captures the heat before being pumped into a heat exchanger, according to a BBC report.
The setup is effective enough to heat a council-run swimming pool in Exmouth, about 150 miles west of London, to about 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) for about 60% of the time, saving the operator thousands of dollars. And with energy costs rising sharply in the U.K., and councils looking for ways to save money, an initiative like this could be the difference between the pool staying open and closing down.
Behind the idea is U.K.-based tech startup Deep Green. In exchange for hosting its kit, Deep Green installs free digital boilers at pools and pays for the energy that they use. Meanwhile, tech firms pay Deep Green to use its computing power for various artificial intelligence and machine learning projects.
Commercial Underwater Datacenter Goes Online This Year
Microsoft's Underwater Server Experiment Resurfaces After Two Years
Heating Homes and Businesses with "Data Furnaces"
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24 2015, @10:27PM
I have multiple machines running 7x24 crunching from RC5 (in the past) to protein folding, when not web surfing or other uses. Been helping to spot heat my home for a northern climate.
This would be nice next step. Would be nice to get a little VM space on radiator and only need a RPi for desktop/thin client. Share some fiber bandwidth, so the link is fast.
I would be in!
(Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday May 24 2015, @10:39PM
No problem with that equipment needs to reach a too high temperature before heat transfer takes place? it may not break down immediately but rather show in reduced lifespan or reliability. Then there's the issue of reliable power and physical manipulation.
"The cloud" seems to more and more mean you have no clue where your data has gone..
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24 2015, @10:46PM
Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, these are what computers are for. Socializing, socializing, socializing. Antisocial techy nerds are not welcome. Nerds built the Internet, now get off the Internet. You're not wanted anymore, losers. Get lost.
(Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday May 24 2015, @10:50PM
Nerds still have Internet2, meshnet and Dark Web.
[SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
(Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday May 25 2015, @03:53AM
As the GP AC was saying... "get lost". Isn't life wonderful?
(Score: 2) by takyon on Monday May 25 2015, @04:20AM
Could be wonderful, if they don't come for the replacements.
[SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
(Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24 2015, @10:51PM
I mean... I understand there are places on the planet where you may need a heater in the summer as well, but they're not where people would usually want to live.
(Score: 2) by demonlapin on Monday May 25 2015, @03:11AM
(Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday May 25 2015, @03:52AM
You use the heat in an AC driven by the Einstein refrigerator.
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24 2015, @10:59PM
Takes about an hour to heat up? Won't keep a small room warm? Try a mining rig and get ready for a naked dance party in your living room with the windows wide-open on New Year's Eve. Been there!
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24 2015, @11:02PM
Good idea, bro! Spend $5000 building a badass rig to mine 5¢ of bitcoin. You're so fucking clever.
(Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday May 25 2015, @03:40AM
(Score: 1) by KGIII on Monday May 25 2015, @04:52PM
I have been reading here for a while but just decided to join (I won't post AC - I said it, I own it, my moniker is all over the web) yesterday but, even having read a lot, the is the most salient point made in any comment on the board. I am humbled, impressed, and genuflect in your direction.
"So long and thanks for all the fish."
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25 2015, @12:57PM
Way to keep up with 2015 Mr Clever. Sure the rigs are off for the summer. Yes they'll be plugged back in for the winter. In the meantime you just go on with your bad self.
Yeah 1.6 TH for $225 then depending on local rates ~$100 month in electricity. But I'm sure the coil in your house is more efficient so you are a winner in your own mind no matter what right?
(Score: 2) by looorg on Sunday May 24 2015, @11:15PM
You are most likely better of by leaving a couple of old and large crt monitors running around the clock. That will warm up a room quickly. It won't get you any bitcoins tho.
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24 2015, @11:23PM
But then how will I brag to my idiot homies about my stash of bitcoin?
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24 2015, @11:57PM
(Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday May 25 2015, @03:45AM
(Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 24 2015, @11:39PM
(Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Sunday May 24 2015, @11:59PM
Here's what the article had to say about it:
[SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
(Score: 3, Disagree) by Gravis on Sunday May 24 2015, @11:48PM
seriously, we need to stop using x86 in datacenters and move to ARM. now if AMD would get it's ass in gear and put out their ARM chip, that would be super.
(Score: 3, Informative) by gman003 on Monday May 25 2015, @02:54AM
ARM is only low-power because it's low-performance. A well-designed ARM core on the same process node as an x86 core, with a similar performance target, will have about the same power consumption. Compare eg. A8X to Bay Trail.
Of course top-end x86 cores are less efficient - they can compute circles around any ARM core out there. That's not a fact of the architecture - if AMD's ARM proc is performance-competitive with their x86 offerings, it will also have comparable power consumption.
(Score: 2) by VLM on Monday May 25 2015, @11:50AM
That brings up stereotypical design issues, such as is your data center even remotely CPU limited or is it I/O limited? If its I/O limited then weaker lower power CPUs is a great idea. If its CPU limited because you're mining bitcoins or something, then its the other way around and you need fast processors.
For a long time (a decade or so) I used a 486 desktop as an internet firewall. Compared to a contemporary P3 processor it wasn't very impressive, but CPU use never got very high per my monitoring and I was always upstream limited. I have an embedded 586 doing the job now (a soekris box). As long as I'm I/O limited using a weak processor simply doesn't matter. Of course if gigabit fiber ever came to my area then I'd probably end up CPU limited and need to upgrade.
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25 2015, @01:59PM
Profitably mining bitcoin on a GP processor? I believe that ship sailed at least 2 years ago.c
(Score: 2) by Gravis on Thursday May 28 2015, @11:23PM
ARM is only low-power because it's low-performance.
this is incorrect. just check out this poor battery life [anandtech.com] on this x86 smartphone which has far worse performance than it's ARM counterparts [anandtech.com] which have smaller batteries!
you clearly aren't in the silicon design biz or you would already know how bad x86 is by nature.
(Score: 3, Insightful) by isostatic on Monday May 25 2015, @12:19AM
So does the company pay for the power? That's the missing bit of the article.
I can walk down to homebase and get a 2kW plug in radiator for £15. Aside from this "small set up fee", it's completely free to use. And converts 100% of the electricity it uses to heat.
Why would I pay £300 to do the same thing?
The only explanation is the company pays for the power too, but there's no mention of how this happens.
(Score: 5, Informative) by isostatic on Monday May 25 2015, @12:29AM
On the assumption the company does pay for the electricity. Cost per kwH in the netherlands is 20p, so a 1kW Radiator would recoup its investment in 1500 hours, or say about a year at 10hours/day 6 months/year.
However gas prices in Holland are only 6p/kwH, which is what you'd normally use to heat your house, so you're talking a roi of 5,000 hours, or nearer 3 years.
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25 2015, @01:14PM
maybe they can use the space heater to calculate how they can make it have more then a COP of 1?
(Score: 2) by istartedi on Monday May 25 2015, @10:10PM
As someone who already heats with electric, it's expensive.
It doesn't work that well either. When I really want some heat in
here, I start burning *wood*. Now I realize that my electric+wood
approach isn't common; but in the past I had gas and wouldn't even
think of using electricity.
Conceptually, the idea of having an electric heater with a "lottery"
component from mining crypto-currencies or something sounds
appealing. In practice though I think the cost of a mining rig ($1000s?)
vs. a $40 space heater wouldn't work out, and lotteries are... lotteries.
Isn't that about where we are with crypto-currency mining? It's pretty
much impossible now for a kilowatt (about what my space heater
consumes) to bring home decent Bitcoin, rigtht?
Anyway, next winter I'm pretty sure I'll be throwing on another log
for heat as opposed to checking my heater's log files.