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Power IT

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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  • Is there a bigger version of that map around? I can't read a thing on it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TFer_Atvar (857303)
      It's intentionally small. They're selling a paper version for over $100, and probably don't want to give folks a reason not to buy.
    • Re:Bigger cable map? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @12:39AM (#22909506)
      There's a more useful map in the article itself [invest.is], and the text gives the capacities of the lines:

      Farice is running at 20 Gb/sec capacity with an ultimate transmission capacity of 720 Gigabit/second and CANTAT 3, which has 5 Gb/sec capacity both ways with an extra 2.5 Gb/sec to spare.
      • Data centre of the world? Well maybe not right away, but they have the ability to increase there bandwidth by 700Gb/s which should be enough for a few large companies datacentres I would imagine. Plus building large datacentres would take a year or two during which time new lines could be run. Iceland should be a big winner, less cooling needs as the average annual temperature is around 5C (you might actually want the heat :), the energy is clean, and they are equidistant to both Europe and North America.
  • The ice will just melt.
    • by calebt3 (1098475)
      It is closer to the Artic, so there is less time to ship in more.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BlueParrot (965239)
      Big deal, they have plenty of water to cool it with being an Island and everything. Point about putting a data center there is cheap electricity due to abundant renewable energy, such as geysers and hydroelectrics.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Please keep in mind there is such a thing as heat pollution. Warming the water 10 degrees can radically affect the nearby ecosystem.

        I'm not saying your typical data center is going to put out the same heat as a nuclear reactor. They actually take steps to cool the water, but it's still warmer than it went in.
        • Re:Won't work (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30, 2008 @01:34AM (#22909716)

          Please keep in mind there is such a thing as heat pollution. Warming the water 10 degrees can radically affect the nearby ecosystem.

          I'm not saying your typical data center is going to put out the same heat as a nuclear reactor. They actually take steps to cool the water, but it's still warmer than it went in.
          I certainly don't think heat pollution will be a concern. Gigawatt size coal plants and nuclear reactors have to worry about heating nearby rivers, but in this case we are talking about the additional load to run datacenters heating the Atlantic Ocean. A 1 GW electric power plant will typically reject 2 GW thermally (which is a lot of local heat). But 3 GW is a lot of power to be generated in one spot. The renewable energy sources of Iceland certainly don't generate anywhere near that much power per unit area. And the heat rejected from datacenters will be trivial and widely distributed.

          I think two things will stop these datacenters from going to Iceland: restrictive immigration laws and submarine data cable capacity. Iceland has a total population of about 300,000. They simply can't have a diverse enough IT industry to support setting up these data centers without expats. And without the bandwidth, there simply isn't a point.
          • I think you might be surprised by the pull Google would have. A data-center of google magnitude means a lot of revenue + IT benefits + any immigrants will be well educated. The bandwidth however is a problem, I think they should put it in Scandinavia personally. Though I don't know how much more expensive electricity could be there. Atleast they have a land connection, plenty of icy water and easy to deal with governments.
  • Good for Iceland. I hope they get some big fish.
  • Are people forgetting their geography? Iceland is green and Greenland is ice. Shouldn't we consider them as a data center wooing country?
    • by JimboFBX (1097277)
      I heard that vikings intentionally swapped the two names so that people would go to the wrong island. Is that true?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by kiehlster (844523)
        I haven't heard that before, but it would make some sense. The big issue I see is that Iceland really isn't icy. It even has active volcanoes and geothermal hotspots. Not really what you think of when you put in a data center. If the Vikings really did change the name, then they'll have succeeded in fooling corporations generations later by it. Cue Vikings laughing at Google as its data centers melt under hot lava.
      • I heard that the climate changed between then and now. That is part of the reason the early viking settlements on Greenland ended up going kaplooie after a short hundred, or couple hundred years.

        Why don't I look it up, you may ask. Well, I'm drunk and lazy.
      • by Tord (5801)
        Well, kind of...

        Iceland was named Iceland for reasons that I don't know but my guess is the glaciers.

        Greenland on the other hand was named Greenland by an entrepreneurial viking who first explored the coastline of Greenland and then started a colony on the west coast. Calling it Greenland was simply marketing to get more people to join the effort to colonize the land.

        It did succeed, the colony was established and existed until climate changes caused hardship and forced them to leave.

        The Greenland colony was
    • by zmollusc (763634) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @02:24AM (#22909868)
      ... so does 'Eng' mean 'free of meddlesome bureaucracy'?

       
    • They have nothing BUT geo-thermal power. It will not rise in price (well much). It is what even the US should be pursuing since it is a baseload type power (can be called when needed), whereas solar and wind are being pushed and they are when the time is right.
    • by dwater (72834)

      Iceland is green
      Really? I admit it's greener than I had thought, but it looks [google.com] more brown, even orange, than green.

      Actually, I would have guessed it would be more black than anything...
  • by postbigbang (761081) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @12:41AM (#22909516)
    Five good reasons:

    1) cheap geothermal power
    2) cheap geothermal cooling
    3) easy freight
    4) educated and even DNA-tracked populace
    5) computing is an indoor sport

    Five considerations:

    1) they like to go whaling; not necessarily a friendly thing in by some opinions
    2) latency; not as a bad as a sat, but not as good as Chicago for US; geo centric for North America and EU
    3) earthquakes and unsettled geography
    4) too many thermal pools to screw off in
    5) don't want my server called 'homerdottir'
    • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @12:56AM (#22909568)
      On the other hand, it's very close to the largest IXP in the world- Amsterdam. Chicago is only good for America.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        On the other hand, it's very close to the largest IXP in the world- Amsterdam. Chicago is only good for America.
        I don't think those words mean what you think they mean. Iceland is about 2000 km away from Amsterdam.
      • by dwater (72834)
        In case anyone else was wondering :

        List_of_Internet_Exchange_Points_by_size [wikipedia.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nicklott (533496)
        Go check a map. Iceland is close to Amsterdam in the same way Anchorage is close to New York.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by IvyKing (732111)

      5) don't want my server called 'homerdottir'


      If that's Homer as in Homer Simpson, the server name would be margedottir. In Iceland, the daughters are named after their mothers.


      Iceland is probably cool enough that a well designed data center could forgo air-conditioning, unlike the eastern Oregon or eastern Washington sites popular for data centers.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30, 2008 @06:08AM (#22910466)

        If that's Homer as in Homer Simpson, the server name would be margedottir. In Iceland, the daughters are named after their mothers.

        No, they aren't, at least not as a general rule. The general rule is that all children are "named" after their father (and I'm putting that in quotes since it's not really a name as much as a *description* of who you are); it's possible to use the mother's name instead of the father's, too, but it's neither restricted to nor standard for either sex.

        (Also, to pick some nits, you've misspelt "dóttir" (and don't tell me about English dropping accents - it's a different letter, not an accent), and the father's/mother's name is put into the genitive case. For example, the son/daughter of Anna could be Önnudóttir, not Annadóttir or Annadottir - that is, assuming their patronymic name wouldn't be, well, patronymic (deriving from their father's name), of course.)

        Hope that clears it up! :)

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by bumburumbi (1047864)
        That is incorrect. Males and females in Iceland are usually called afther their father. Icelanders of both genders can call themselves after their mother, but that is rather rare. About 10 percent of the population has surnames instead of patrionymics. Homer Abrahamsson and Marge Clancydóttir have three kids, Bart Hómersson, Lisa Hómersdóttir and Maggie Hómersdóttir.
    • You say "4) too many thermal pools to screw off in" like it's a bad thing.

      Besides, Microsoft doesn't need to go looking for cold weather, they're from Seattle. (like Me)
      • by EdIII (1114411) *
        I wholeheartedly fucking concur my friend.

        Have any of you SEEN these thermal pools? I guarantee you there won't be a single stressed out IT Geek on that whole island. In fact, a whole island dedicated to huge datacenters and these "Thermal Pools" would be IT Heaven.

        If you still don't understand imagine a bunch of gorgeous naked blond women playing around in a bunch of steamy hot water....

    • by tindur (658483)

      1) they like to go whaling; not necessarily a friendly thing in by some opinions
      What's bad about whaling (assuming you don't catch any endangered species)?
      • by jtev (133871)
        The perception that all whaling is always of endangered species, and also, the idea that whales are intelegent and friendly. Between those two common ideas it becomes a huge anit-hippie activity that creates international incidents. Some would even consider it to be akin to peopling. Except that there don't seem to be endangered species of people to hunt. Well, not since we wiped out Neanderthal man anyway.
        • by tindur (658483)
          Some whales (e.g. the blue whale, sperm whale) are still endangered. All whales are not endangered - not in a scientific way at least.

          As to your second argument: Here is a true story. I once worked on a farm where the farmer kept sheep. He sold them for meat but one of them was his favourite. He said it was more intelligent than the others and that it had feelings. It was never slaughtered but when it died it was buried. You may also care more about certain animals but should you try to punish people wh

          • by Kristoph (242780)
            All animals (including humans) are intelligent to one degree or another. It is for you as a moral individual to determine at which point in the scale of intelligence you consider killing and or other abuses to be unacceptable.

            We have every right to deem it unacceptable for any individual, group or nation to kill animals we consider intelligent much as we have every right to to deem it unacceptable for humans to abuse or kill other humans (especially in cases where the perpetrators 'make their living out of
  • put them in canada, don't need a map for that one.
    • by Brickwall (985910)
      Er, where exactly? Even in Edmonton, which is the northern most major city, temps still get up in the 90's in the summer. And Albertans are worried about water supplies - the oil sands and farming suck up a lot of it.

      You could suggest Yellowknife or some other spot in the Northwest Territories, but I don't think you're going to get a lot of geeks moving to a spot where it's practically dark for 3 months at a stretch, staples like milk and sugar are almost twice as expensive as elsewhere, and the cultura

  • by willy_me (212994) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @12:57AM (#22909576)
    I would suggest locating data centers in a cool climate where farming is popular. Pump the waste heat from the data centers into greenhouses that can surround the data center. Now that waste is helping to grow food.

    Alaska is actually a good place to implement such a solution. There is a huge amount of sunlight in the summer which, assuming you can avoid frosts, can grow amazing produce. All you need are greenhouses and a heat source. In the winter, when sunlight is no longer plentiful and farming shuts down, the heat can be pumped into local housing. Such a solution would also provide local produce in Alaska - produce that is fresh and doesn't require expensive shipping. One last point about Alaska, it's very central. It might not appear to be when looking at a map, but if you look at a globe you will see that it sits nicely between Asia and North America. 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.

    William
    • by jamstar7 (694492)
      Interesting idea about Alaska, there.

      It'd be almost trivial, relatively speaking, running an oceanic cable from Asia (Russia) to Alaska, following the Aleutians chain. I'm not sure how deep the water gets there, but I'm fairly sure it's shallower on the average than further south in the Pacific. Good, quick, cheap way to wire the globe, I'm thinking...

      • by Xzzy (111297)
        The Aleutians are not the best route. Russia and Alaska are much closer together at the Bering Strait.. as little as 1.5 miles if you count two islands out there that are owned by the two countries. The mainlands are about 40 miles apart, a trivial distance for undersea cabling. The Aleutian chain is a bit over 1000 miles long.

        Incidentally this is the same gap that Ted Stevens' been pushing to have a bridge built over for much of his career.
      • by lattyware (934246)
        It's be even easier if Abramovich [forbes.com] digs his version of the Channel Tunnel under there.
    • Who knew the wasteful consumption of resources by new technology could actually help the surrounding environment without too much implementation. WOW!!!
      • by willy_me (212994)
        Wish I could say that this is all my idea. But in reality, they have been doing this for some time with power generation in Europe. North America is just behind the times. It's easier to vent the heat into the atmosphere then to design systems to utilize the heat around the power plant (and fyi, ~60%->heat and 40%->electricity). This won't change until the cost of power increases. British Columbia recently introduced a carbon tax - the first step in making this happen. But for any real changes t
        • Looking it over, it is a carbon tax on JUST themselves i.e. their consumption of local product. What is needed is a carbon tax on local products AND what is imported into their area. If they do that, than other areas, including countries will pick it up. In fact, if counties like Iceland, and France will go ahead and do just that, it will have a massive impact on the world.

          Even now, California's CARB just backed off on requiring car makers to have sold a couple of percent of Zero Emission Vehicles. They
    • by TFer_Atvar (857303) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @01:47AM (#22909752) Homepage
      Unfortunately, here in Alaska, we're undergoing an energy crisis. Here in Fairbanks, where I live, most electricity is supplied by coal and fuel oil. Due to the massive spike in oil prices, energy costs have risen greatly. In southern Alaska, most electricity is being supplied by natural gas, but even that's getting more expensive as the southcentral gas fields begin to run low. Though the short term is somewhat difficult, there is hope from a projected series of natural gas pipelines from the North Slope and the potential for dozens of hydroelectric and/or nuclear plants. Until then, however, electricity prices put the kibosh on most big server farms up here. The bandwidth capacity isn't bad -- we've actually got better connectivity than Iceland, based on the information I have, and a new undersea cable is scheduled to begin being laid between southern Alaska and Washington state next month. As an aside, there's a nice piece on the effects of the 700Mhz auction in Alaska scheduled to be released on Monday in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. I should know; I wrote it.
      • by willy_me (212994)

        Unfortunately, here in Alaska, we're undergoing an energy crisis.

        This could be perceived as being a good thing. You see, if Alaska has to invest in new power sources, the costs of building additional generating capacity is actually minor. One just has to build a slightly larger power plant. All the other costs such as securing a fuel source, allocating land, building infrastructure, etc. remain almost constant.

        The state would simply require a long term plan. Get work started right away on new gener

      • by owlstead (636356)
        Uh, just a thought: don't you have an abundance of wind?
    • by 3p1ph4ny (835701)
      Data centers in cold locations seems like a good idea in principle, except it's really not workable in practice for one reason only: it's too damn cold in the winter.

      I go to school in the Midwest, and on the coldest day of the year (-20 F or so) it's one of the warmest days in the high performance computing lab. We get our cool water from across campus (less than half a mile), and on those cold days they keep the water in the pipes warmer than they would in the summer, to prevent them from freezing.

      In fact,
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by willy_me (212994)
        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 syste
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      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?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ricree (969643)
        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 lit
        • Unfortunately, tar sands require refining first. Thus you run into the same problem that we have here in Alaska: The points at which the fuel is extracted aren't the first points at which they can be used. They must be refined first, and the refineries are sometimes a long distance away. I'm not familiar with the refining of tar sands, but it's possible that they'll be far away from the extraction site. Hydroelectric plants (a very few coal-fired plants, and Iceland's geothermal plants) are just about the
        • by deragon (112986)
          Québec has among the cheapest electricity in the world and could remain competitive for the long term because its power is almost exclusively generated from hydro. Check the chart for relative prices:

          http://www.hydroquebec.info/grandesentreprises/tarifs_avantageux.html [hydroquebec.info]

          Here is sample calculation for a contract with more than 12 consumption periods with no running-in:

          http://www.hydroquebec.com/business/moyen/tarifs_rod.html [hydroquebec.com]
          • by Brickwall (985910)
            Except the Quebecois are among the most culturally insular people in North America. Where are the geeks going to live? In a company dorm, shunned by most of the people in a small town? Where they would have a hard time ordering dinner in a restaurant, or buying a pair of shoes? Again, I don't think the average geek wants to live in a town of 2,000 where he can't speak the language, feels ostracized, and couldn't pick up a girl to save his life. Oh wait, I guess that last one applies pretty much anywhere.
            • by Bertie (87778)
              You could always, y'know, learn French. And generally get involved. You never know, you might even enjoy it.

              It's spectacularly ignorant to expect the local culture to adapt to you. Embrace the opportunity to try something new.
              • by Brickwall (985910)
                I was born in Montreal. I still bear a scar on my head from when I was three years old. Two of my French "friends" broke a pop bottle, and cut me with it - and they were also three years old. You don't know how wide the division is between the English and the French. If you're in the downtown core, or the western part of the city, it's easy to get along in English. Move east of St. Laurent, and you encounter scorn and ridicule, regardless of whether you can speak French. Most Canadian kids learn some French
                • by Bertie (87778)
                  I dunno, I've had nothing but good times there. I found the people to be as tolerant as they are in any other cosmopolitan city. My French is good, but it always takes me a little time to adjust to the local dialect. I've never had any grief off anybody for not being Francophone, but then again as soon as I speak they'll know I'm clearly not from anywhere in North America.

                  I think it's a great place, with a character all its own.
            • by tomhudson (43916)

              Except the Quebecois are among the most culturally insular people in North America. Where are the geeks going to live? In a company dorm, shunned by most of the people in a small town? Where they would have a hard time ordering dinner in a restaurant, or buying a pair of shoes? Again, I don't think the average geek wants to live in a town of 2,000 where he can't speak the language, feels ostracized, and couldn't pick up a girl to save his life. Oh wait, I guess that last one applies pretty much anywhere.

              • by Brickwall (985910)
                I was born in Montreal; you don't need to educate me about the city. But you should know if you move to Quebec, and you weren't educated at an English school there as a child, all immigrants have to send their children to French language schools. And that's "newspaper" singular, as the Montreal Star shut down years ago. Don't get me wrong - I love the city, and our family cottage is 40 miles south on Lake Champlain; I'm suggesting the culture shock from some guy from SoCal or Texas would be immense. But if
    • How about Manitoba, Canada? We have extraordinarily cheap power from our hydro dams, we're much closer than Alaska, and it's winter 8 months of the year :)
      • by willy_me (212994)
        Alaska has more sunlight during the summer. Alaska also lacks fresh produce so growing it there can feed the local population and reduce on shipping. Manitoba has no lack of farms and the resulting produce would have to be shipped to a market (consuming fuel). One last point about Alaska, it's rich in natural gas and if the power plant was powered by natural gas, the resulting CO2 could be captured and pumped underground to replace the extracted natural gas. Oh, Alaska is also better positioned wrt the
  • 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.
  • In another three or four billion years when the Earth's core cools they'll be screwed just like the rest of us.
  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afidel (530433) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @01:11AM (#22909640)
    You'd have to have a very cheap and very power inefficient server to come even remotely close to their claims of half of the cost of the server on power. An elbaso HP Dl360G5 costs $1600. It will use about 300W at typical load, but lets call it 250W to make the numbers easier. Double this for inefficient cooling and power conversion in the UPS (this is overly costly but makes up for underestimating power usage) so 500W. There are 8,760 hours in a year so 4,380 KwH, you'd have to pay $.20 per KwH to reach their figure, this is over twice the US national average. Prices where you'd want to put a datacenter are closer to $.06-$.08 per KwH. My average server cost closer to $7,000 with battery backed RAID card, dual fast drives, dual CPU's, 4GB memory, 3 year 6 hour repair contract, etc. Even powering that kind of servers off diesel generators fulltime it would have to draw ridiculous amounts of power to cost half it's purchase price in electricity every year.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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 wvmarle (1070040)
      Now you are forgetting a few things.
      • The server is to be written off in three years, so that makes your $1600 server cost $480 per year.
      • Your sever will use about 500W, including losses in the UPS. That sounds high. But this 500W ends up almost completely as heat in the surrounding area: this has to be cooled. Assuming active airco systems (in contrast to just pumping in cool air from outside of the building) this easily costs another 250W on airco losses. So your 300W computer actually uses 750W!

      So the

  • by Anonymous Coward
    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".
    • If the companies sited their data centers in big cities and used old, inefficient equipment, you'd be griping about pollution and global warming.

      Saving money means making the best use of manpower. It means not wasting. It means freeing resources to put to other, better uses. Don't sneer at greed, it promotes progress.

  • by Burdell (228580) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @01:51AM (#22909770)
    Air heat transfer is not that good, and you can't just pipe in outside air to cool the data center (due to dust and humidity control), so it doesn't generally work out that a cool outside climate lowers cooling costs significantly. If you compared it to some place with high (35C) normal temperatures, it might make enough of a difference (because standard air conditioning efficiency does drop off in that range IIRC), but that is not most of the US. Also, 50% of power going to cooling is not representative; it should be down closer to 35% from what I remember of our numbers (and we're in a location with relatively hot summers). Our electric rates are also already pretty cheap; commercial rates can go as low as 4.721 cents per kilowatt hour (plus a demand charge).
    • by deragon (112986)
      I would think that filtering cool/cold air and processing it for removing the humidity would still cost much less than actually colling to lower temperature hot air. If the air is too cold like Canadian winters, you will actually recycle the air within the data center and just heat up a bit the small incoming air from the outside to get ride of the humidity.

      But I am not an expert in the field. Numbers would need to be crunched to see how effective that is.
      • by jabuzz (182671)
        All air conditioning has filters to remove the crap in it. However if you look at the max air inlet temperatures quoted by manufactures there are plenty of places in the UK that could provide it from outside air 365 days a year, as the maximum recorded historical temperature (over a couple hundred years) is below that of the max air inlet temperature.

        A quick search shows that the maximum recorded air temperature in Reykjavik is just under 25 Celsius, so no air conditioning need even on the hottest of days.
    • by Bert64 (520050)
      If the air is cold enough, then there won't be any humidity, and dust is relatively easy to filter out.
      The colder air outside will render the external condenser of the aircon system more efficient, remember all aircon does is move the heat around. And you could use some level of heat exchange too, pump the warm air through a series of heatsink-clad pipes located outside and it will cool down fairly quickly.
      • by aaarrrgggh (9205) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @08:10AM (#22910944)
        While I am no HVAC engineer, I pretend to be one on odd-numbered days.

        Cold climates have several real challenges for data centers. From an HVAC standpoint, there are two general ways to cool a data center in a cold climate-- outside air only and air/water cooling. Air/water systems have drycoolers with glycol kept around 30-40F, and circulate the cold water throughout the building to fan coil units. Minimal outside air is brought in for "fresh air," and must be humidified which generally requires a lot of energy.

        The air-only systems bring in 100% outside air, but must first temper (heat-- to avoid condensation) it and increase the humidity to control static inside the space. Very little pump energy, but the humidification and pre-heat are expensive.

        While it seems trivial to filter out dust, the better air filtration systems increase the pressure drop of the air handling unit, and force you to use a bigger fan. Heat wheels and enthalpy wheels are also an option, but have similar challenges in most real-world situations.

        The biggest challenge with cold climates is making sure the diesel generators start when needed. This alone makes most data center managers skeptical at the prospects of cold-climate data centers.

        For a truly efficient solution, the best approach is likely to be heat removal at the chip level and recovery for other purposes. 100F air isn't very useful, but if you can get 150F water off the chip then that heat can often be reclaimed for some other purpose more effectively. If all else fails, 150F water is pretty easy to cool off in a closed circuit dry cooler no matter what the outside temperature.

        There is also a lot of work going into direct-evaporative cooling solutions (swamp coolers) for data centers, as well as some other non-compressor based cooling systems. Unfortunately, most of these can work very efficiently for 9-10 months a year, and need a separate system to cool for the remainder of the year. Having two systems makes the payback equation often favor the less efficient solution...
        • by g-san (93038)
          > For a truly efficient solution, the best approach is likely to be heat removal at the chip level and recovery for other purposes.

          No, truly efficient solution IMHO would be lower powered/more energy efficient devices. We all know that these are most likely Intel systems and in the race to add gates and mHz, efficiency got left by the sidelines.
  • I have seen some Youtube videos of people on Iceland trips and it looks like a beautiful country. They can send me there any time as an electrical engineer or software architect. What language do they speak? Isn't Iceland Danish territory?
  • Coincidence (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    they're gonna need a bigger cable

    Strange coincidence: I actually got some emails about just this subject.

  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Sunday March 30, 2008 @03:12AM (#22909982) Homepage
    Sure, they say it's for the cheap power and cooling but we all know the IT administrators are relocating the datacenter to Iceland for two reasons:

    1. Part of the year in nearly total darkness. Nerds and the daystar don't mix well.

    2. Real reason anyone goes to Iceland: Icelandic girls [youtube.com] (fast forward to the third minute)

  • The Icelandic govt. has just increased their bank rate to 15% and the country is not doing too well. Nor is it's currency. That's not the kind of situation that attracts new investment and this promotion (if that's what it is) doesn't look very promising.
  • Forget the ice (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mawbid (3993)
    Many of the comments are focusing on the outside temperature in Iceland and linking that to decreased cost of cooling. That may be relevant, but it's not the point. The point is that power is cheap and plentiful here (mostly hydro, some geothermal).

    Iceland doesn't have much in the way of natural resources but it has all that power. The way to export that power so far has been to import alumina and export aluminum. The conversion takes a lot of energy. Server farms are another way of exporting power.

    The

  • right on top of active volcanoes and an earthquake prone island.

    Yup.
  • The Invest in Iceland folks have had booths at many of the data center trade shows. They've been marketing themselves as a data center destination for about 18 months now, using geothermal power and free cooling as the focal points of their pitch. Thus far they've had site visits by Microsoft and Cisco [datacenterknowledge.com], but no takers. The only major project announcement - a $300 million data center [datacenterknowledge.com] near Keflavík International Airport - was by a development firm based in Iceland.

    Meanwhile, there have been a bunch of m

  • 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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