back to article Follow the money: Chasing cheap data centre power

It will soon be possible for data centre operators to move workloads between data centres in pursuit of the cheapest electricity supply. As reported in the MIT Technology Review, researchers from MIT, Carnegie Mellon University and Akamai developed and tested a routing algorithm that showed energy savings of up to 40 per cent …


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What a lovely idea

What a lovely idea, especially where the datacentres are interconnected with each other and with their users by networks with infinite bandwidth and zero cost.

What, you mean the real world isn't like that?


Yes, where does the data live?

As Mr A. Coward says, this works based on multiple premises.

* The data is replicated on both datacentres

* There is surplus capacity in the lower power datacentre

* No legal (data protection, sales tax) problems with moving the data

* When work is moved from the high power datacentre to the low power one, the disks of the high power datacentre can be spun down, the CPUs and RAM put into lower power states

Unless you have the capital to buy >1 data centre, and can afford the duplicate HDDs and networking overhead, just build all datacenters in places where electrons are cheaper and peak load coincides with the non-overtime period of your ops team.


ya, right

"This idea could also be used by energy suppliers themselves. "

To detect where you are most likely to move your workload to and adjust the price upward to make more money. Or even better, a clever attacker could force all your critical data to a "free power" location, and then hold it hostage or destroy it. Sure, your datacenter in the middle of nowhere has cheap power and great bandwidth, but how is the physical security? Break in, play with the numbers a little, wait until the data gets there, and "all your base are belong to us"....

mines the one with bolt cutters and an MP5 in the pockets.


Power modelling software

I've seen a tool created for the BCS Datacentre Specialist Group which seems to be trying to do this sort of modelling


Computer as Water Heater

with sufficiently agile load switching, power used for computing can be resold as heat for apartment and office buildings.

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Find places where you don't need to use electricity for cooling...

As its already been pointed out, research shows that you could use outside air to cool systems just as effectively.

Or you could move your data centers to locations where your ground temperature below the frost line is cool enough that you could use the earth as a natural heat sink. Imagine putting a data center near a river in NY state where you use geothermal and the earth as sinks. The river could provide some hydro electric power or some water could be diverted to add additional cooling.

Then in the design of the building, you could use design concepts that would also help move the hot air away from the computers all without using electricity.

Thats the thing. Passive cooling to reduce energy consumption. And yeah, if you happen to be near a town, you could use the heat still generated to supply the local community.

Trying to swap your data around isn't a good idea. Did they consider the electricity used by the network too?

Anonymous Coward

Different Grids

Surely the two data centres would need to be on different grids, otherwise the point would be entirely removed.

This would not work in blighty. So I threfore assume the idea is to have the 2nd datacentre on another grid, far far away. With the pipe between them costing £££££.

Silly idea.

The smarter money is on passive cooling (as above) and power demand smoothing through other methods.

That said, the hvac in the datacentre could operate on a electricity demand based model (similar to that being trialed in the uk for domestic fridges).

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