Microsoft Research paper proposes using ‘Data Furnaces’ to heat the home

Diagram showing overview of cloud computing in...
All this cloud computing heats up data centers; now they may be able to help keep you warm AND informed. Image via Wikipedia

Keeping data centers cool is one of the costliest parts for a company running a computer and data system. Microsoft and other companies have already moved many of their data centers to cooler climes like North Dakota and Idaho. Now, the data centers may be able to give something back; all that heat they produce.

The U.S. EPA estimated that servers and data centers were responsible for up to 1.5 percent of the total U.S. electricity consumption, or roughly 0.5 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, in 2007. With companies such as Apple and Google strongly pushing the move to cloud computing, that figure is likely to increase significantly in the coming decade. Since a lot of energy is consumed keeping the computer systems cool, colder climates are seen as more favorable sites for data centers. But a new paper from Microsoft Research proposes a different approach that would see servers, dubbed Data Furnaces, distributed to office buildings and homes where they would act as a primary heat source.

The Microsoft Research paper says that at around 40-50°C (104-122 °F), the temperature of the exhaust air from a computer server is too low to regenerate electricity efficiently. However, this temperature is perfect for heating purposes, such as home/building space heating, clothes dryers and water heaters. So the researchers argue that placing servers used for cloud computing operations directly into homes and/or office buildings would turn heat generation from a problem into an advantage.

more via Gizmag’s Microsoft Research paper proposes using ‘Data Furnaces’ to heat the home.

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