Combining computing servers with alternative energy

Tomas Martin @ 20-03-2008

Could servers only be used when the wind blows nearbyThe Guardian has this interesting snippet of an article that makes sense to me on so many levels. Professor Andy Hopper of the University of Cambridge has been looking at the power usage of computers and made an astute suggestion: locate large processing servers near sources of alternative energy like solar or wind farms. When the power is flowing through the turbine or photovoltaic, computers all around the world can tap into the processors of the server farm. When there’s no wind or sun in one location, the network can call on the processors of somewhere there is.

This kind of synergy is fascinating and I think it’ll be a major feature in our future working lives. Flash drives getting bigger, faster and cheaper all the time and programs like Portable Firefox run straight off a portable drive. I’m writing this post on my portable usb, using only the processor and screen of the laptop I’m borrowing time on. Sooner or later all our computers will be a usb-style stick with all our programs, data and settings stored on it. Plug it into a nearby screen (or project your own), whack out your laser keyboard and dial into any heavy processing power from an external server. Who needs a big computer tower in your room when you can fit it in your pocket?

[story via the Guardian, image by Brent Danley]

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2 Responses to “Combining computing servers with alternative energy”

  1. Barak Korren says:

    The idea of borrowing the computing power you need from large central servers, has a name, its called “Cloud Computing”, but along with its advantages it is plagued with various security and privacy problems.
    Consider the power your internet or cellular provider has over you, now consider how much bigger that power becomes when that provider provides the computation cycles you need to carry out your work and stores your data.
    The history of computing has seen a constant gradual migration of computing power from the central, big, mainframes into the desks and hands of end users, it is amusing to see the trend somewhat reversed now days.

  2. Uncle B says:

    I for one will be glad to get rid of the ‘Tower’. I hope for a solar/wind retirement home and you just solved my computer ‘power’ problem! I’ll just wait for it to come I guess.