Microsoft Wants To Heat Your Home With a Cloud Server

Illustration for article titled Microsoft Wants To Heat Your Home With a Cloud Server

Even though so many of us are in the midst of a heat wave, winter is indeed coming. Microsoft, ever mindful of the future, has therefore figured out a great way to stay toasty. With a cloud server! Umm, what?

Microsoft conducted a study that went on to state that sending servers to apartments and office buildings could not only handle the computing needs of a great many people, but also replace their boilers and oil heaters. Seriously:

Physically, a computer server is a metal box that converts electricity into heat. The temperature of the exhaust air (usually around 40-50°C) is too low to regenerate electricity efficiently, but is perfect for heating purposes, including home/building space heating, cloth dryers, water heaters, and agriculture.

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Your "Data Furnace," as it would be called, would thus save you money and lower your carbon footprint by taking care of your energy needs while you fuck around on the internet. After all, all that heat has to go somewhere. Why not use it? Running older hardware wouldn't even be an issue, because the more heat the better. Pretty cool. [Microsoft Research via DVICE]

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DISCUSSION

I've used this logic many times in the past... in the winter, I don't care about inefficient incandescent light-bulbs, or leaving the computer on too much and wasting electricity, since I know the inefficiency is heating the house anyways. Now it's not perfect, since the electricity costs more than the gas used in the furnace, but if you are running an electric heater at all, then that doesn't really matter anyway.

This is a great idea, but I see it being a pain to implement in practice as there are other factors that need to be considered, such as:

1. The internet connection speed (likely to be solved in the near future)

2. The increased cost of many internet connections over one (possibly solved by getting the servers to serve clients in the same city, thus decreasing long-range internet usage)

But more importantly:

3. The security implications - can you hack your Data Furnace, or monitor it's data communications?

4. The reliability (power outages, etc...)