Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Data Centers in Iceland

It takes a lot of power to run the internet. Keeping all those servers going took 1.5% of total US electricity demand in 2006 (as much as all of Massachusetts) and just keeps rising (it doubled from 2000 to 2005). A quarter of that energy is used to keep the servers cool (which improves performance in addition to not letting the server chips melt). To help with this, some internet companies are building data centers in cold locations, such as Microsoft in Dublin, and Yahoo in Buffalo, NY. Buffalo has the additional advantage of being located near Niagara Falls, the third largest hydroelectric plant in the US.

A focus on cheap, carbon-free electricity and cold climate make it no surprise that Verne Holdings and Wellcome Trust are funding construction of a data center in Iceland. It will be built in an old NATO base, powered by hot geothermal electricity, and cooled (in part) by the island's icy air. Iceland's currency collapse shook its economy and a 2008 earthquake shook the ground, delaying construction slightly. However, things are scheduled to get started by the middle of this year, and the high unemployment might mean savings for operating costs, another similarity with Yahoo's center in Buffalo.

No comments:

Post a Comment