Data Center Tents, Microsoft's Cooling Experiment

Christian Belady has a new post on Intense Computing  or In Tents Computing.

Intense Computing or In Tents Computing?

Now that we have introduced you to the concept of Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and provided a mechanism to calculate this value, I wanted to talk about an idea that may be considered extreme. But just as the extreme nature of Formula One technology eventually ends up in a Ford Focus (and, as I discovered while commuting to campus the other day, so does the driver!), maybe what we are discussing could one day be a feature of a data center near you.

The Challenge—Achieving the Power of One

The central premise of this post is what would a data center look like with a PUE of 1.0? A PUE of 1.0 essentially means that all the power consumed in the data center generates compute operations and there is no additional cooling or power overhead. OK, so we would have to turn off the techies’ coffee machine (or maybe attach a USB-powered one to a customer’s server. Only joking, some people would call that gaming the metric!)


And, Christian closes with qualifier of Microsoft's intent.

In summary, my point is not that we should rush out and build all our data centers under canvas (although I would love to watch Mike Manos’s face if someone did propose putting all the Microsoft data centers into tents). However, I think we should continue to research how we can deploy ultra low cost, power-efficient infrastructure in situations where it makes sense. Areas that would be particularly appropriate are where applications are more resilient to failure and organizations can tolerate minor outages.

We aren’t the only ones working on this approach. You might want to take a look the work that Intel started at the same time as us, here:

I leave it to you to think about where this option could make sense. Our team has already committed itself to investigate these possibilities.

Can Microsoft patent a data center tent?