The New York Times is taking data centers and those who build them to task today in two different pieces, one of which paints Microsoft as an energy-hungry bully to a small Washington state community. The Times reports that Microsoft wasted millions of watts of energy in December of last year by unnecessarily running huge heating units and threatened to waste millions more if a $210,000 penalty for overestimating its energy use was not rescinded by the local utility.
Finding a physical space to store our voluminous cloud-based data is a problem, sure, but keeping the servers cooled down is another, much bigger problem--and an environmentally unfriendly one at that. Instead of installing expensive cooling systems, future networked data centers could use the waste heat of computing to keep people warm.
Supercomputers and massive data centers carry huge energy costs when it comes to keeping their electronic components chilly. Now IBM is set to unveil its next big supercomputer, Aquasar, which keeps cool with a constant circulation of water at 140 to 160 degrees F, according to TechNewsDaily.
Server farms are undeniably awesome in that they store huge pools of data, enable such modern phenomena as cloud computing and Web-hosted email, and most importantly, make the Internet as it stands today possible. The downside: data centers get very, very hot. Cooling huge banks of servers doesn't just cost a lot, it eats up a lot of energy, and that generally means fossil fuels.
We always knew that the National Security Agency collects a lot of surveillance data from satellites and by other means, but we never quite imagined it was this much: the NSA estimates it will have enough data by 2015 to fill a million datacenters spread across the equivalent combined area of Delaware and Rhode Island. The NSA wants to store yottabytes of data, and one yottabyte comes to 1,000,000,000,000,000 GB.
Texas company Baryonyx has plans to build a 28,000-square-foot data center in Stratford, Texas, which will be powered by 38,000 acres of offshore wind turbines, and another 8,000 acres of onshore turbines.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.