Datacenters take up a lot of energy. IBM has worked to make highly efficient datacenters, solar datacenters have been started up, ideas for various ways to cool datacenters have been floated, and modifications to old datacenters can help reduce their impact. And yet there is still far more work to do to get datacenters to quit guzzling up 1.5% of all energy in the
Cooper is exploring how to eliminate electrical transmission costs associated with running datacenters by placing the datacenters at the source of renewably generated power. In other words, on the roofs next to solar panels, in the fields next to wind towers, etc. Cheaper fiber optic cables would link the datacenter to the user. Well, there is one way to reduce costs, but it sure brings up a whole lot of practicality questions.
The feasibility issue is handled by virtualization and fast Ethernet, getting into the realm of cloud computing – computing jobs can be shipped virtually to datacenters no matter where they are located. But Hooper still has to figure out things like software that will monitor the electricity generation, prioritize jobs, and then send those jobs to the datacenter attached to the turbine that happens to be spinning right then, or the solar panel that happens to be in the sunshine at that moment. All fine and dandy still, but we then have to factor in installation and maintenance costs, and how to get a repair person out to these potentially remote areas.
There is no idea for increasing the use of renewable power that I’m willing to wholly discard – every idea right now is worth exploration. But this sounds like it is going to need a whole lot more exploration before it becomes a practical solution to datacenters’ use of energy.