It’s well known that computers generate huge amounts of heat when they’re working hard. Indeed, a major challenge of server farms is to keep the facilities cool enough to function safely and effectively.
In a world where energy costs are a concern for many, an innovative Dutch startup are taking the heat generated by servers and putting it to a good use.
The company, called Nerdalize, are scrapping the traditional server farm and instead putting an army of distributed servers in peoples homes, with the excess heat generated by the servers used to heat the homes free of charge.
The company have developed what they call eRadiators, which are cloud based servers that look like radiators. Nerdalize have teamed up with Dutch utility company Eneco to try out the radiators in several homes.
The commercial and social potential appears to be win-win. Nerdalize deploy their servers without the costs associated with a data center, so can therefore offer cloud based computing for around 55 percent less than other suppliers.
The home owners get super cheap heating (ie free), with Nerdalize looking after all of the costs associated with running the devices.
What about the noise I hear you cry? Most computers do indeed make a frightful racket when they’re working hard, mostly due to the fan trying to keep them cool. Nerdalize state however that their eRadiators are very quiet.
Of course, the devices aren’t without pitfalls to overcome. For instance, whilst the company are adament their servers are secure, there will no doubt be concerns about hosting sensitive data in the home of a random stranger.
The company also needs to ensure that homeowners can regulate their heating so they don’t cook in summer and shiver in winter.
Whilst the devices are capable of sending excess heat outside the building, it does appear as though Nerdalize are in control of that rather than the resident themselves (although hopefully that isn’t the case).
Initial estimates suggest that installing the devices in your home could reduce your bills by around $400 a year, although this of course can vary depending on your home.
Whilst there are some clear issues to work on, it’s a fascinating idea that I look forward to following over the coming year. You can learn a bit more about Nerdalize via the video below.