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Microsoft Data Storage Power Wireless Networking

Is a Wireless Data Center Possible? 172

Nerval's Lobster writes "A team of researchers from Microsoft and Cornell University has concluded that, in some cases, a totally wireless data center makes logistical sense. In a new paper, a team of researchers from Cornell and Microsoft concluded that a data-center operator could replace hundreds of feet of cable with 60-GHz wireless connections—assuming that the servers themselves are redesigned in cylindrical racks, shaped like prisms, with blade servers addressing both intra- and inter-rack connections. The so-called 'Cayley' data centers, so named because of the network connectivity subgraphs are modeled using Cayley graphs, could be cheaper than traditional wired data centers if the cost of a 60-GHz transceiver drops under $90 apiece, and would likely consume about one-tenth to one-twelfth the power of a wired data center."
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Is a Wireless Data Center Possible?

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  • by laron ( 102608 ) on Monday October 15, 2012 @03:22PM (#41661765)

    Unless they plan to use microwave beams for power.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15, 2012 @03:27PM (#41661851)

    Not exactly. 90% less for networking.

  • I doubt it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperMooCow ( 2739821 ) on Monday October 15, 2012 @03:30PM (#41661903)

    You can't have nearly infinite bandwidth in a finite frequency spectrum, but you can keep adding a shitload of wires if needed.

    Given the problems people have when multiple wi-fi routers are too close together like in an apartment building, I am doubtful that it would work well in a server environment, not matter which frequencies are used.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15, 2012 @03:31PM (#41661917)

    DNRTFA, but I imagine that the figure is quoted off of the networking equipment alone, without regard to any other aspect of the datacenter. I.e.: your actual network equipment footprint would shrink 20-30 fold, and that renders the power savings -- and while that is far from a majority of the power utilization of a traditional, large-scale datacenter, it is not an insignificant number in either physical space or power consumption.

    That said, I doubt this is feasible without rethinking the datacenter design from the ground up. Simply rearranging the racks to minimize interference is not going to be enough.

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Monday October 15, 2012 @03:37PM (#41661987)

    the traffic is sent into the air and its up to each receiver to filter the noise and ignore data not meant for it. lots of interference.

    its OK for starbucks or for home use but not by much. i have at least 10 wifi networks around me that constantly interfere with mine. i used to get regular disconnects from x-box live that went away when i tried to connect my x-box to my router with Cat5 cable. same with video streaming.

    this is why large events have crappy data speeds. everyone is broadcasting into the same air space and interfering with each other.

  • Smells funny (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Monday October 15, 2012 @08:17PM (#41664733) Journal

    Somehow, they're concluding that 90% of the power used in a datacenter is used for network adapters, switches, and routers? Something smells rather funny here...

  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Monday October 15, 2012 @10:28PM (#41665403)

    First, you need to use a modulation scheme that allows intense amounts of data exchange. If you don't do that, you're not trying and what did you do this for in the first place?

    You have to have pairs that are either lambda or phase delineated for rational discrimination. Then you need plenty of pairs, as this is a crossbar arrangement; otherwise it's useless and you might as well use RS-232.

    Finally, if you don't provide optimal switching, you're blocking, and if you're blocking, you're not state coherent, and why did you do this in the first place?

  • by FridgeFreezer ( 1352537 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @08:02AM (#41667489)
    And to make sure the light beams don't get crossed over, you could use some of thee new-fangled glass-fibre cables... oh hang on...

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