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April 23, 2008


Stian Soiland-Reyes

Good idea with the temperature-controlled job submission system!

This has always been my argument for allowing my Linux server at home to be summing around on 200W day and night.. the waste power ends up as heat that is needed anyway. But what happens during summer? Assuming there's still a few PhD students submitting jobs during the holidays, would those jobs just pile up in the queue until the autumn comes creeping in again?

There's also the question of overall efficiency of the heating, for instance if, like in the UK, you have a choice of heating your house using gas (I mean gas-gas not petrol-gas!) or electricity that has been produced by burning gas, then using the latter is something like 25% efficient compared to ~80% for the good old gas heating - numbers taken straight from my head.

(I've solved this in my house by buying so-called "green" electricity from windmill farms - theoretically it would be more environmental friendly for me to turn on loads of incandescent light bulbs instead of turning on the gas-powered central heating!)

However, if you are going to do the computing anyway, this would basically mean free heating - provided the occupants of the office don't mind the fan noise of the grid node!

(On a side note, this is almost exactly the plan they had in mind when they built the Kilburn building here in Manchester, the heavy duty computers in the basement would hook up to the air conditioning system and provide heating for the rest of the building.

The problem is that since the 1970's computers have become smaller and more efficient, forcing the university to install an additional heating unit powered by gas..)

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