This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Let’s look at two buildings.  In the winter, a condo complex is busy burning natural gas to heat up all of its 50 or so units.  The condo is fairly efficient, but Seattle is a cold place and the building still uses a lot of fuel to keep people warm.  Next door there’s a server farm.  It’s filled with high-end computer components whirring and computing and using a huge amount of energy.  The heat that results from this energy is dumped outside, as computers want to be cold, not warm.  The obvious solution is to connect the two – build residential over server farms.  The farms don’t care about the view, and the residents can benefit from all of the free heat and high-quailty network connection.

Microsoft (in their suburban-loving way) has looked at this for individual homes.  But breaking this into 50 pieces is crazy – you need 50x the network runs, multiple times the installation cost, maintenance would be expensive and would involve visiting multiple homes, and security would be a nightmare.  I’ve actually seen something like this done for large office buildings – our own SAM has a similar setup with the WAMU* building it’s attached to.  But connecting a server farm to a multifamily building would be perfect – offices need very little heat in comparison, since they run during the day and have high internal loads (from all of their lights – and computers!).  Homes need heat all the time in the winter, and have much smaller internal loads.

* I’m sure it has another name now.

One Reply to “Server homes”

  1. Forget geothermal, it’s googlethermal heating!

    Maybe the economics of bitcoin mining will experience a sweet spot that leads to developers deploying server racks rather than furnaces.

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