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Iceland Woos Data Centers As Power Costs Soar 142

Posted by kdawson
from the where-cool-meets-hot dept.
call-me-kenneth writes "Business Week covers the soaring demand for power and cooling capacity in data centers. Electricity consumption for US data centers more than doubled between 2000 and 2006. Among the other stats: for every dollar spent on computing equipment in data centers, an additional half dollar is spent each year to power and cool them; and half the electricity used goes for cooling. Iceland, with its cool climate and abundant cheap power, is courting big users like Google and Microsoft as a future data center location. (Can't help thinking they're gonna need a bigger cable first, though.)"
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Iceland Woos Data Centers As Power Costs Soar

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  • CCP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tolomea (1026104) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @01:03AM (#22909602)
    CCP makers of EVE online are pretty much Icelands biggest tech business and their servers are in London.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30, 2008 @01:14AM (#22909650)
    The power for cooling is not a "problem" per se. It's just that greedy companies and shareholders want to squeeze out every possible penny. There's a difference between "power is too expensive" and "power could be cheaper".
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30, 2008 @01:41AM (#22909736)
    You left out the cost of cooling the room/building, which they claim is half the electricity cost, which brings your estimate closer to the price of power we pay.
  • by call-me-kenneth (1249496) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @02:07AM (#22909812)

    I don't know where the current internet pipes are located but if they pass close to Alaska then this idea would be worth some consideration.
    Can you guess the fatal flaw in your scheme? Hint, how big a pipe do you need to serve the population of Alaska?
  • by willy_me (212994) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @02:43AM (#22909916)
    While I believe your campus is as you described, I do not believe your conclusion is valid. It appears to be a case where the campus was not initially designed to support a high performance computing lab. It is quite typical for these things to be added on after the fact. Even if the building is new, the heating, cooling, water, electrical will likely come from a central source that was designed without thought of the lab. And even if the lab was planned, adding other buildings can still cause the system to adversely effect the lab.

    So you point is good. Such a solution would have to be designed appropriately. But a poorly designed campus in the Midwest does not mean that the idea will not work in practice. I have seen many buildings that suffer from the symptoms you described (it reaches -50C here). All is good until it gets real cold then some rooms are freezing while others are like saunas. It all comes down to design - something the described buildings lacked (wrt heating).
  • by ricree (969643) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @02:54AM (#22909944)
    You run the same problem anywhere that is cold and remote, which is what is being discussed right now. Besides, if the other advantages are great enough in a location and there is enough capacity to satisfy at least one or two big companies, the rest of the capacity will follow.

    As for Alaska, it has some advantages, but if the energy problem is as bad as TFer_Atvar says, that would be hugely prohibitive. Iceland not only has a cold climate, but has abundant geothermal energy. Unfortunately, it seems a little light in terms of the internet connections to the outside world, and only a single direct connection to North America. Compared with something like the US, this might make companies somewhat reluctant to place too much of their data there.

    Canada might be another interesting choice. It has all the climate benefits of Iceland, but lacks some of the disadvantages. Datacenters could be easily connected over ground to the US, from which there are ample connections to the rest of the world. As Canada's tar sands are increasingly utilized, the energy costs for the area will likely be at least comparable to most other areas in the world. In fact, as cheaper oil sources are exhausted, the energy costs near the tar sands will likely become relatively cheap. It certainly isn't the most environmentally friendly option, but it will likely be an attractive one for businesses looking to cut costs.
  • Re:CCP (Score:2, Interesting)

    by youroldbuddy (539169) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @08:13AM (#22910958)
    A 50ms latency (although its closer to 30ms) makes all the difference in the world. At least that is what the CCP developers told me when I asked. I lived with one (Platonic) for months spent days on end with them. CCP is also far from being the only high tech company in Iceland. The parent should be modded down because its misleading where it isnt wrong.
  • by miller60 (554835) * on Sunday March 30, 2008 @05:23PM (#22915128) Homepage
    Iceland's not alone. Manitoba, Canada is shaping up as another region that is an getting attention from data center builders [datacenterknowledge.com] due to its climate and energy profile. Large power customers in Winnipeg paid an average of 3.6 cents per kilowatt hour [hydro.mb.ca] in 2007, cheaper than the average rate in virtually every state in the U.S. except Idaho. That's all clean, green power from Manitoba Hydro, which operates 14 hydroelectric generating stations and also buys the output of a 99-megawatt wind farm.

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