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Cloud Heating

Loan out servers in lieu of space heaters
  [vote for,

When the temperature dips, people might be tempted to run space heaters in their home. These are cheap and crude ohmic heaters that, while perfectly "efficient", make very poor use of electricity to warm the home. It's more effective, for example, to operate a heat pump to bring outside heat into the home.

Server-grade computers generate a lot of heat--heat that has to be extracted to protect the computers from overheating. To generate this heat, they also require a considerable amount of electricity.

Proposed is a strategy to munge these two problems into one solution. Servers that don't require a perfectly good network connection would be leased to people who need heaters in their homes. The servers would heat the home, eliminating the waste generated by the server and putting that heat to good use, while also eliminating the wastefulness of the space heater each server or group of servers would replace.

It would only take one mid-tier server to make up for one space heater. My space heater in my office uses 1500 watts, and a fully-loaded 4U IBM Power 740 uses a maximum of 1400 watts.

I'm still trying to figure out which way the money would change hands. A 1400 watt load costs about $100/month. Would a homeowner want the liability of keeping a $10,000 server lying around, full of business data and whatnot? Could a business owner swallow that risk to save the $100/month, minus whatever kind of payment to the homeowner makes it worthwhile?

kevinthenerd, Sep 14 2017

Q.rad https://m.slashdot.org/story/331173
French Company Plans To Heat Homes, Offices With AMD Ryzen Pro Processors [xaviergisz, Sep 14 2017]

Computer Heated Water Computer Heated Water
I knew I'd seen this on here before. [Wrongfellow, Sep 18 2017]


       This actually makes a lot of sense.
So what is it doing on the halfbakery?
Jokes aside, most places have at least a reasonable cell-phone connection, if not broadband or even fibre. Taking it to the next step, new blocks-of-flats could have the servers/heaters built into the floor.
neutrinos_shadow, Sep 14 2017

       Should it not be possible for servers to email excess heat to needy homes?
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 14 2017

       If each home converted their 'recycling' and general waste into energy, this might not be necessary. On the other hand, if each home were responsible for keeping all their associated data as a connected unit, this might become possible.
Ian Tindale, Sep 14 2017

       There's also a sound 'Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery' argument for doing this. By spreading storage and processing power over hundreds of locations (and presumably duplicating storage in many locations) the system will be resilient to power outages, floods, terrorist incidents, etc. which might affect any one of these locations. A good Disaster Recovery solution is usually incredibly expensive.

Questions might be asked about data security - e.g. do I want my bank account records stored in your basement? - but this can be mitigated by encrypting data on the disk and in transit.
hippo, Sep 14 2017

       Companies have invested in to doing this before, I've read articles about it.
It is a good idea. But there are issues like hippo mentions, and also practicalities, like the cost of domestic electricity being higher.

       Realistically it works best when the heating needs to be on most of the time, and electrical heating is the best option.
My guess is that this won't become widespread until after processing-power/cost plateaus.
Loris, Sep 15 2017

       Reminds me of something I read recently about Bitcoin mining in Argentina. It's apparently illegal. Miners are sometimes caught because of high power bills. If they only used as much as they previously used for heating, no one would ever know.   

       In general, bitcoin mining satisfies the requirement of being processor hungry, but having low bandwidth requirements. I'm not too thrilled with the concept of BitCoin in general, but since people are buying computers and burning CPU cycles for it anyway, we might as well make use of the waste heat.
scad mientist, Sep 16 2017


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