Monday, November 30, 2009

Cloud Computing To Warm Homes

Okay, last post for this week! I promise! (naughty SM, rule-breaking again!)

Up till a few weeks ago, I had no idea what 'cloud computing' was and had only heard of the term a few months back. I feel ditzy for not knowing where all my emails and blog posts and Facebook activity logs were being kept at all this while. I've always wondered but was too lazy to find out. But at last I've kind of gotten a rough idea of what 'cloud computing' is! Thanks to an informative and cute tutorial on CNN.

Anyway, the boundaries of our world, as we know it, is evolving into one that has no borders - whether we like it or not - as most of our lives have gradually become entangled with the 'online' world. And for this reason, cloud computing is so important. What is cloud computing? It's basically an infrastructure filled with racks and racks of servers, or better summarised as data centers (yes, so unimaginative when compared with the term 'cloud computing'). At least that's the gist I'd grasped from reading about it.

As we know servers generate a lot of heat and a proper cooling system needs to be in place for the machines to operate efficiently. According to this Reuters article, Google already uses around 1% of the world's energy to sustain its data centers and in a typical data center, only 40-45% of the energy is used for the actual computing - while the rest powers the indispensable cooling system.

Now to deviate a little: Personally, I've found my laptop power adapter a very good source of heat to warm my freezing fingers when I'm in office or a place with super-numbing air-conditioning. I usually feel very self-conscious when I need to defrost my digits, and so, I stealthily creep closer to the adapter and rest my frozen palm onto the hot plastic like it was an everyday thing to do! This is called 'let not the energy be wasted via loss through heat radiation.' haha

Well, referring back to the Reuters article, Finland is going to use the excess heat from a data center to be located beneath the Uspenski Cathedral - which is one of Helsinki's tourist attractions - to be channeled into the district heating network. A system of water-heated pipes will warm homes in the Finnish capital as well as recycle the heat generated by the servers, which once was a lost cause in the energy cycle.

Now, that's a green idea!

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